Nothing, by Janne Teller
How certain are you that the things you do in life matter? A heavy question, I know, but then this is a heavy book.
One day, Pierre Anthon announces to the rest of his 7th grade classmates that nothing matters. The students take his comments, in a word, badly. His announcement flies in direct opposition to everything their parents have taught them and everything they believe. Pierre, however, is adamant in his belief and will not be swayed. He settles himself in the branches of a plum tree and is content to let life simply pass by. This does not sit well with his classmates at all. They endeavor to prove to Pierre that there is something, anything, in the world that matters.
Things start off innocuously enough. It is almost like a game of truth or dare. The children build a “heap of meaning” and each child is required to contribute the item that means the most to them. What that item must be is decided for them by their classmates. The pile builds as the children take turns chapter by chapter. With each item the stakes get raised. No one wants to sacrifice their beloved item. After a child makes a sacrifice, it is their turn to demand a meaningful object from someone else, and they begin to take their revenge. Each time they go for the jugular, choosing more and more valuable things. Disturbing things. Horrific things. In the end, someone pays the ultimate price.
Nothing was originally published in Denmark and has been translated into English. A 2011 Printz Honor book, it is dark, thought provoking, and not for the faint of heart. It is for older teens and a crossover title for adults.
Check the WRL catalog for Nothing.