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VOYAStruggling with the recent death of his mother, his emotionally absent father, and a sister who finds peace in body piercings, Martin is trying to rebuild himself. Encouraged by his therapist to find an outlet for his grief, Martin tries smoking, stealing, and even random acts of helpfulness, only to be frustrated. He seems most at home building his Web site full of quotations from Kant and Emerson, art from his mother, and scattered thoughts of his own. Emerso, Martin's Web site, features menu links to opinions, the universe, and one promising the meaning of life, which is perpetually under construction. Martin lives in a world where his math teacher has lived another life as a lead guitarist for a metal band and as a wrestling star, and where a janitor offers students a quiet refuge in the boiler room along with half a tofu sandwich. His support system includes a friend more comfortable with computers than with people, a love interest who pines for a dead classmate, and a therapist who encourages him to get angry—really angry. Despite the odd cast of characters, this story, instead of seeming absurd, seems comfortably quirky. Memories of his mother link seamlessly with Martin's musings about reincarnation and Jello-colored hairstyles. Martin comes off as smart, intuitive, and someone struggling with common human issues. Instead of becoming another story of a teen who has lost a parent, it becomes a tale of someone discovering himself. Fast-paced and intelligent, this story entertains as well as educates. VOYA Codes 3Q 4P M J (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2002, BoardwalkBooks/Dundurn, 227p., Trade pb. Ages 11 to 15.