Project Description

Teacher’s Guide

The Big Nothing

by Adrian Fogelin

This sensitive and often humorous book tells the story of an adolescent boy who begins to find himself after the people he has always depended on let him down.

Alone. That’s how thirteen-year-old Justin feels these days. His older brother Duane has left home, enlisting in the Army, and his father has walked out, maybe for good this time. His mom is too depressed to get out of bed, much less pay the bills and keep food in the refrigerator. And if that’s not enough, his best buddy Ben has a new girlfriend and no longer has time to hang out. There’s not much left for Justin to do but to put his brain in neutral and slide into the state he calls “the Big Nothing.”

But slowly Justin discovers he has more resources than he thinks. With the help of his classmate Jemmie and her grandmother, Nana Grace, he learns that underneath all the noisy confusion in his brain lies a talent for music. As he spends time with Jemmie, he begins to understand how simple notes make complex music, and how simple feelings can turn into deep emotions. Award-winning author Adrian Fogelin once again offers readers an emotionally charged story featuring a sympathetic adolescent trying to make sense of the people and world around him.

Hardcover: $15.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-326-9
Total Pages: 224
Size: 6 x 8 1/2
Language: English
Paperback: $7.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-388-7
Total Pages: 224
Size: 6 x 9
Language: English
Format: E-book
ISBN: 978-1-56145-602-4
Age Range: 8 – 12
Language: English

Purchase this E-book through the following vendors:


Accelerated Reader
AR Quiz#: 82405
AR Reading Level: 3.8
AR Points: 8

F&P (Fountas & Pinnell)
F&P Level: Y
F&P Grade: 6

Reading Counts
Reading Counts Level: 5.4
Reading Counts Points: 16
Reading Counts Interest Level: 6-8


“The impending war in Iraq gives this story a definite place in time, and its distinct characters make it satisfying and surprisingly realistic. Misfit finds fit.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“…Fogelin plots a thoroughly engaging story of teen angst, multicultural and political divisions, and a natural desire of neighbors to come to one another’s aid. The characters may be doves, hawks, or melanges in between, but they are sincere in their beliefs and yet can find room in their hearts to pull together for Duane. Serious and humorous by turns, this seemingly simple story is actually quite complex but not weighty and will be enthusiastically embraced.” ―School Library Journal, * STARRED REVIEW *

“Fogelin’s character-driven narrative… speaks of the painful transitions of adolescence with rare humor and honesty.” ―Booklist

“Fogelin, the author of Crossing Jordan and other novels for YAs, sensitively describes Justin’s world and his conflicting emotions as he tries to deal with his situation at home and with shifting relationships with his friends. An absorbing and well-written tale.” ―Kliatt


Young Hoosier Book Award (nominee, middle grades) ―Association for Indiana Media Educators 2006-2007

Young Adult Top Forty ―Pennsylvania School Librarians Association 2005

For Teens, by Teens: Teens Recommended Reading List ―Just Read, Florida! 2011

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Meet the Author

Adrian Fogelin is the author of several novels for middle readers and young adults, including Crossing Jordan and The Real Question. She lives in Florida. You can visit her website here.