Reviewed by Cana Rensberger for TeensReadToo.com
Have you ever had the urge to eat M&M's in multiples of five? Maybe you try to walk out to the car in an even number of steps? Brush your teeth the same number of times on each side? Top and bottom? If so, this book is a perfect square for you!
Jackson loves even numbers, especially the number 8. He always does one extra repetition to avoid an odd count. When he moves across the street from Esmerelda, he finds his love of numbers is a perfect match to her need to make some sense out of math. Not only is she okay with his numbers fetish, but her fascination with his mother's love of singing the blues encourages Esmerelda to frequently pop by for a visit. At school, he meets Asim, who not only understands Jackson's love of numbers, but who might actually be better at math that he is.
Jackson and his mother were forced to move to the suburbs to avoid unpleasantness from his mother's old casino boss. Now Jackson has a new best friend, and a potential girlfriend. His luck is running hot. Until he gets in a fight with Badman, the school bully. And a blue mustang, license plate number 777, the ugliest and most ominous number of them all, starts trolling his neighborhood. And, finally, Esmerelda disappears.
NUMBER 8, told in the alternate voices of Jackson and Esmerelda, is a fascinating read. I found Esmerelda's passages more engaging in the beginning. But as Jackson begins to live outside his inner world of numbers, his passages become more active and pull you along as you feel his fear and sense of purpose. The way Anna Fienberg ties up all the plot lines leaves the reader feeling like they've just sat through a perfectly executed guitar riff while drinking a warm cup of cocoa. Well done.