Nothing to Lose

Nothing to Lose

by Alex Flinn


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Nothing to Lose by Alex Flinn

I shouldn't have come back to Miami . . . I've been escaping cops' notice for a year now. I'm no longer Michael Daye, high school athlete with a promising future. Now I look like someone whit no future.

When Michael saw a chance to leave town with a traveling carnival a year ago, he took it. Back then, his home life was spinning violently out of control. The carnival, with its "no questions asked" policy, seemed like a welcome escape. But now Michael's job has brought him back to Miami, where his mother is on trial for murder, making him wonder how much longer he can hide from his past . . . and his future.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060517526
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/12/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 1,259,742
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.12(h) x 0.68(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Alex Flinn loves fairy tales and is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Beastly, a spin on Beauty and the Beast that was named a VOYA Editor’s Choice and an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. Beastly is now a major motion picture starring Vanessa Hudgens. Alex also wrote A Kiss in Time, a modern retelling of Sleeping Beauty; Cloaked, a humorous fairy-tale mash-up; Bewitching, a reimagining of fairy-tale favorites, including Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, The Princess and the Pea, and The Little Mermaid, all told by Kendra, the witch from Beastly; Towering, a darkly romantic take on Rapunzel; and Mirrored, a fresh spin on Snow White. Her other books for teens include Breathing Underwater, Breaking Point, Nothing to Lose, Fade to Black, and Diva. She lives in Miami with her family. Visit her online at

Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide
by the author

Warning: Contains major plot spoilers. Do not read before reading the book!

1. Kirstie says Michael's problem is "not knowing whether to be loyal to someone else, or to yourself." How does this issue of loyalty come to play in the book? Does Michael eventually resolve it? How?

2.Why does Michael feel he can't talk to his friends about the problems at home, but considers telling Karpe? Is Michael's concern reasonable? What would have happened if Michael had told Tristan?

3.Why does Karpe take Michael to the fair? Do you believe Michael's stated reason ("It beat going home") for going?

4.To what extent does Michael's relationship with Kirstie affect the other events of the book? How do you think things would have been different if he'd never gone to the fair?

5.Think about the different roles played by the three important female characters in the book – Lisa, Kirstie, and Angela. What do they have in common, and what are their major differences.

6.Why is Michael attracted to Kirstie? How does she differ from other women he knows? By contrast, what do you think attracts Kirstie to Michael? Why does she care what he does?

7.Michael initially views the carnies as freaks, but then feels part of them, more than with his own friends. What is the cause of this change of heart? Have you ever fantasized about running away to a different kind of world? What do you think it would be like?

8.Kirstie has a very fatalistic view of life (Whatever will happen, will happen). Is she right? Does she change this view in the course of the book?

9.Why does Kirstie tell Michael the story about thedemise of the freak shows when they are at the party. Were the states right to ban freak shows?

10.Does Walker view himself as a villain? How do you think Walker justifies his abuse of Lisa in his mind?

11.Michael says, "From what I could tell, lots of guys beat on women?" Do you think this is a true statement, or just his perception based upon his experience with his mother and her boyfriends? Do you believe certain women are more likely to be abused than others?

12.Loneliness is a theme which runs throughout the book. Kirstie tells Michael the carnies are lonely even though they're never alone, and Michael is very frank with himself/the reader about his loneliness. Are other characters lonely as well? Which ones?

13.Angela walks Michael through a cross-examination such as he might face in a real trial. What do you think the purpose of cross-examination is? Does it help the jury see the truth, or only allow the party with the smartest lawyer to win? What is Angela's purpose in showing Michael this?

14.The court finds Michael's killing of Walker to be justifiable homicide based upon Michael's statement that he believed that Walker was about to kill Lisa and he used reasonable (though deadly) force to prevent the death. Without this belief, the killing would not be justified. Is this a good law? Should Michael have been justified in killing Walker under these circumstances? Should he have been justified even if the risk of death was not immediate but eventual?

15.The defense Lisa planned to use at trial, battered spouse syndrome, is based upon the battered spouse's evidence that she was in such fear of the victim that she had no means of escape other than killing him. This defense does not require that the killer have been attacked at the time of the killing. Would Lisa have been successful in this defense? Did she have no means of escape? Do you think battered spouse syndrome is a good defense?

16.Where do you see Michael in five years? How about Lisa? What do you think happened to Kirstie after she stopped answering Michael's e-mails?

17.Consider the title phrase, Nothing to Lose. What does it mean? Does Michael truly have "nothing to lose" in the book? Do any other characters?

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Nothing to Lose 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is about a son who lives with his mother and his step father. His step father always abuse Michael mother. Before marrying Walker they were poor. Since she married Walker they can afford food and Michael is able to go to school. The most interesting book to read is Nothing to Lose. The author is Alex Flinn. The story is about a boy named Michael who is 16 or 17 year old. Michael lives in Miami with his biological mother, and his step father. Michael’s mother has been getting hurt by his step -father. She has been at home and never goes out of her house. When Michael was at school he joined the football team went and to parties. He had a normal life like other kids. Michael’s mother was on trail for Walker’s death. One important question was should he stay in Miami or leave with Kristie and the carnival. One thing I like about the story is Michael is emotionally strong and is able to handle situations. For example, Michael takes care of his mother despite his young age. No matter how hard things get, he never give up. Michael puts his mother first. Michael quits football to spend time with her. One thing I like about Kristie is she is really helpful to Michael. I really like to be around others who like to help people. I like Michael’s mother a lot because I feel that the mother is really strong. She’s been abused for so long and still stays with Walker who has abused her for a long time. The things I dislike about the book is Walker. He is really mean to Michael’s mother. He hits her so many times and he really doesn’t understand how Michael and his mother feel when the mother being abused. One more person I don’t like is Tedder. They used to be friends but not anymore. One theme of this book is when Michael runs away. Michael thinks running away will fix his problem. Running away can only make the problem bigger and bigger. Running away will never fix anything. When you run away you are making yourself feel bad. I think you should read this book because it can change the way you go through hard times. In this book there are a lot of strong feelings about family. This book can teach you what to do if you have similar problems. Anybody who likes to read about families, should read Nothing to Lose because it’s full of adventures. In order to read this book, you need to understand the vocabulary, and understand the message they are telling you. You should buy this book to keep in your personal library.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Monique Romain The book Nothing to lose, written good piece of literature. The quality of suspense in this book was just enough to keep the reader on his toes throughout the whole novel. I thought that adding the sense of not knowing what was to come made the book very interesting. Although, with that said, the unsteady pace of the book through me off at times because I would get confused about where I was. Nothing to Lose started off really slow then gradually increased its pace towards the middle. Michael Daye is the main character of the book that lives in an abusive environment. Both him and his mother experience both verbal and physical abuse by his stepfather. Michael Day finds himself in a dilemma between what he thinks is right and wrong. The book has a down spiraling twist to how Michael Daye decides to get out of the situation. The book conveys a solid example of the bond between a Mother and son. Many times in the book Michael Daye&#700 s mother, and himself went through great lengths to protect each other. An example of this was how Michael decided to cut off all after school activities to in order to be there to protect his mother. Lisa, Michael Daye&#700 s mother always took the punishment he would have received in not pleasing his stepfather by covering for him. Also in the book Lisa goes to great lengths to keep Michael from going to foster care. Sometimes when you think there&#700 s no way out there&#700 s always another door open, is the message of this book. A lot times in this book this message was conveyed when Michael had to by author Alex Flinn, was a very well written and by far make decisions on what was best for him and his mom. I think that because Michael was always there for his mother and always tried to protect her made him very brave. I know it must have had to take a lot of courage to stand up to his stepfather the way he did. The way that the author wrote this novel really gave me a sense of the characters and what they were going through, making me feel as if I were there. The events that took place in this book were beyond words. Everything that occurred always had me wanting to turn the page. Overall I would definitely give this book a ten because it appeals to all the readers&#700 senses. The reader that would mostly like this type of book is an audience that likes suspense, and drama. This book is very much a must read book. It deserves five stars because it really gets the reader engaged and active in the book. I highly recommend this book, because I enjoyed it very much
rabbitrun on LibraryThing 7 hours ago
Good plot twists throughout will keep YA readers guessing as to what will happen next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have you ever watched someone being abused unable to do anything? The book nothing to lose by Alex Finn is about a boy named Michael who lives with his mother and stepfather (walker) who was very abusive to his mother both physically and mentally. His mother is put on trial for the murder of walker. He ran away to the carnival that was in town because he didn’t want to have to live in the foster homes. Some things I disliked about the book were how they did the chapters as this year and next year because at some points in the book it gets confusing. Some things I did like were how the plot to the story, how they started it, and how they ended the book I thought the plot to the story was good and interesting. It had good surprises/twists along with the plot. Most of the time he feels mad and sad because his mom won’t do anything about his stepfather abusing her, at a curtain point in the book he starts to feel less sad and more mad to the point where he doesn’t even want to be there anymore and tries to live in the carnival. In the beginning he feels worried every time he left the house for fear that walker would continue to beat on his mother but as the book moved on he began to care less and worry less. During the book Michael makes a few good friends that help him with his problems throughout the book some of the people he chose as friends are: Karpe, Kristi and cricket, because they were the ones to help him the most in the book. In the book Michael seems to also be pretty social through all the friends he has. I would highly recommend the book nothing to lose to readers who like books with lots of twists and surprises with some real life problems and situations. There are some important characters in the book you may want to pay attention to because they will eventually all be important in the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have you ever thought how bad it would be to be abused or how terrible you’d feel about yourself? Well Michael’s mom in this story was being abused by Michael’s step father, Walker. In this book Nothing to Lose, Walker brutally beats Michael’s mom for minor reasons. Michael decides to quit football to keep his mom safe. After Michaels quit football he became well known as the weird kid of his school. Michael friends try to invite him to events, but he will not to go because he needs to protect his mother from Walker but, his friends do not know what is going on with him, so they think he’s kind of being weird. What I liked about this book was how Michael could solve his problem so well. Michael also could run from the law, and he could make difficult decision in a spit second. My biggest dislike was Walker. I didn’t like Walker because he would beat Michael’s mom and he’d sometimes even threaten to kill her. I thought Walker was just messed up. Michael is a high school student that has been having a lot of problems in his life at the moment because of his stepfather. The plot of this story is about how Michael problem-solves to get himself out of his situations. I would mainly recommend this book to high school students because I think it would be easier for a high school student to relate to this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the book Nothing to Lose by: Alex Flinn the character Michael runs away and tries to help his mother. The book is about this boy named Michel he’s 17 he lives with his mother and step father. And his step father beats his mother for 2 years every since they been married. Michel goes to school and plays football he’s the starter QB. Michael’s mother is on trial for killing Walker Michael left and joined the carnival. The good parts of this book are that Michael runaway from home after his mother went on trial for killing walker. I also liked that Angela helped Michael get his mother back because if that was my mother I would want her out to. The things that I did not like about the book are Walker because he beats his wife like every day. I also did not like how the book changed from last year to the present year because some times it gets confusing. One of the topics in the story is abuse and the message for abuse I think is that you should not abuse any body or any thing and if you see it happening you should tell somebody. I would recommend this book to people who like to read abusive books a teenager would probably like this book. Readers need to know that there is a lot of drama in this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have you ever thought of running away? This is one topic in the book, Nothing to lose by Alex Flinn. Walker sn dead. Michael has lived with the carny’s half his live, also his mother is facing trail for murdering Michaels step father, Walker. Michael quits the football team and stop talking to his friends. When Michael goes home and he finds out that his mother in pregnant. There is a even bigger surprise at the end. One thing I liked about this story is that the author is good at hiding the truth. You don’t k now what happens to Michael and his mother until the end of the story. One thing I dislike about this story was the Michael’s mother married Walker. One day Walker takes it too far. One major topic in this story is running away. Michael ran away because he had problems with his family back home. By running away from your problems won’t fix any of them. You have to face them head on until they go away. If you have problems with your family, just talk it out with them. The worst thing you can do is to run away from your problems. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a twist and little romantic parts in the story. There is one part in this book you never see coming.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What do would do if you had an abusive parent, most people would try to fight back? In the book Nothing to Lose, Michael Daye has an abusive step-dad. The main character in this book is Michael Daye. He left town a year ago to work in a carnival. He was a high school athlete, now he has blond hair, a mustache, and he changed his name so nobody could recognize him. Back in town his mom is on trial for a murder. One thing I liked in the story is how the chapters are split by years to make it seem shorter. I also like some of the characters because they are described like real humans. One thing I don’t like about this book is the things the characters do. I think Michael is smart but does not think of the things he does, because he stops talking to his friends and left every thing behind. Michael knows that if he stays home his mom won’t get hurt by Walker. Michael is not as smart as some of the people in the story because he isolates him self from his friends and his life, which made him more stressed. I think Michael can thrive in the world but it will be hard because he will have no one to talk to. I think Michael and Kristy learned not to run from their problems at the end of the story. Michael feels depressed and angry for most of the story. Michael started to feel more relaxed and happy because he met Kirstie and Walker is gone. When Michael is faced with challenges he deals with them in anger. I would highly recommend the book Nothing to Lose to anyone who loves drama. Readers should expect a lot of bad language and this story is packed with a lot of action and drama.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have you ever seen your mother get abused by your father? In the book Nothing To Lose, written by Alex Flinn, you will experience some crazy things about abuse. This story is about a seventeen-year-old boy named Michael who works in the circus. He is really interested in playing football on a team with friends from school. Sadly, he quits to help his mother. Michael lives in Miami, Florida with his biological mother and her husband, the step-father, Walker. I disliked when Walker hit his wife. It’s disrespectful to abuse women and it is not right. I also disliked how the mother pushed Michael away. That’s suppose to be her son. Something I liked about the story is when Michael quit football. Because he really cares about his mother. He wanted to protect her. I also liked when Kirstie showed Michael that she was really comfortable around him. Michael is a really interesting person. He likes to discover things, & experience new things. Sometimes he can get a little cranky, but only if something doesn’t go right. He is a really nice guy and doesn’t judge others. He has a really great mind. I recommend that you read this book if you are honestly interested in drama and action. If you like to read books about drama and that go by fast, you would enjoy this book. Mostly you should really pay attention to every little detail or you will get really confused. Have fun!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have you ever thought about your parents fighting or something like that? In Nothing to Lose by Alex Flinn a boy lives in a family that always fights. In the book Nothing to Lose Michael decides to run away from home and go somewhere he will never be found. He ran away because there were a lot of problems that he was facing. At home his step-dad used to abuse his mother and he could not do anything to stop it. There was one thing I liked about this book. He ran from his home so that he can run away from his problems. If it was me I would most likely run away, too. There is one thing that I disliked. In the book his father gets killed right at the beginning which I did not expect to happen. One topic in this book is how abuse can cause people to do some stupid stuff. Sometimes they hurt people that surround them because they are in a bad environment themselves. In this book the author is trying to explain how people can solve those problems, like trying to talk to somebody about it or telling the cops or something helpful. I would recommend that people buy this book if they are willing to go on an adventure. In this book readers should expect improper language and swearing. Each section in this book goes back from “This Year” to “Last Year” which is kind of confusing at first, but is the book to buy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do you ever wonder what it would be like to be abused? It would have been a horrible life for you. In the book Nothing to Lose by Alex Flinn, Michael's mom gets abused by Walker, Michael's step dad. Walker's dead! Michael runs away and lives with the carneys. Michael’s mom got abused by Walker. Michael goes to the carnival with Julian. He meets a girl named Kristie. Angela the lawyer helps Michael help his mom. I like how Michael’s mom tries to help him. When Michael joined the football team again at the end of the story, all his friends had already graduated. Michael was a year behind but he still got to play on the football team. I truly dislike Walker because he’s not smart and he abuses his family. I dislike Michael’s mom because he had Michael live through that trouble. The main character of the book is Michael. Michael felt bad, sad, and irritated, because his mom was in a bad situation. She couldn’t get out of the trouble herself. Michael had to go through it and try to fix the problems, to help his mom. He needed help from his lawyer Angela and Kristie, they seemed to help him. Michael gets along with his friends Kirstie, Julian, Tristan, and his mom. Michael was sick and tired of Walker beating his mom. It has lots of very good details. Readers should expect a story packed with a lot of action. There are plenty of characters to get to know and remember, but it is worth it if you are interesting reading books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read it every chance i got!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sage21 More than 1 year ago
This book was very good and I really enjoyed reading it and I can't wait to read Alex Flinn's other books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ellen_Young More than 1 year ago
I find this book very intereting. I am a huge Alex Flinn fan. Her writing is excellent. I also like the themes she chooses for her stories. This book was hard to put down. True, some parts of the story may be dry, but it is still a good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
murflaw More than 1 year ago
The Twilight Zone meets Clint Eastwood.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nothing To Lose, by Alex Flinn is a compelling and unforgettable story. Flinn tells the story in an original way that makes you never stop turning the pages. The book makes the life of an abused child seem so real, it¿s fascinating to hear what it¿s like in those situations. Even though it¿s about abuse, it¿s a book that many people will be able to relate to. Nothing To Lose is the story in the life of Michael, a 17 year old whose home life is a violent wreck. He takes the chance to run away with a traveling carnival, only to find himself back in his home town again with his mother on trial for murder for murdering his abusive step father. The main issue of this book is abuse, and how the stepfather, Walker, is driving his family crazy. Michael goes through his life trying to get his Mom to break up with him. ¿¿Your husband threatened to kill you.¿ I said. `I shouldn¿t have told you that. I was upset that night.¿ `He still shouldn¿t have told you that. I want to talk about it. I want to-` She put her head down, hands to her ears. `I did this for you Michael. You needed stability.¿¿ Michael is not doing well in school because of his home life, and is having trouble getting along with friends. This is something we can all relate to. He makes friends with an outcast, just because he has no one else to talk to. I like this part of the book because he realizes that this person isn¿t really that bad and turns out to really help him. The only part I didn¿t really like about this book, was that the way it was written, sometimes got confusing. In this book, Flinn would write a bit about what¿s currently happening in his life, and then a little bit about what happened last year. This turned out to be much more interesting than just the straight story, but sometimes at the end it got a little hard to understand. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes sitting in bed for two days, saying `just one more chapter¿ but then keep reading for hours. If I were to rate this book, I would give it 4 ½ out of 5 stars. Very nicely written!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Book Review on ¿Nothing To Lose¿ Michael was a teenager with a not so friendly home life. His step-father was abusive on his mother and his mother was too weak to leave him. Michael was later torn between his new found love or his broken home. He chose to run away with his girlfriend, a 1\nd later returned after hearing about the death of his abusive step-dad. His mother was on trial. ¿Nothing to Lose¿ is a book that you definitely don¿t want to miss. It was far above the average book for me, it was very interesting at all times. The way that Alex Flinn, the author, wrote the book, kept you wanting more at all times, between the love life of Michael, or how his twisted family was in such a dangerously tight situation. Using lines like ¿he says he¿ll kill us both if I leave¿ kept you wanting to turn the page and read further, to see the outcome. One thing that I especially liked about the book, was that it delivered such a powerful message in such a way that wasn¿t at all boring to read. It explained about how spousal abuse was very wrong, and the consequences and effects of it, while also keeping you wanting more, because the interesting life of Michael. If you¿re the kind of person that loves a great story, and you are looking for a book that can easily deliver that to you, they you have found the right book. Once again, it reviews the harsh side of spousal abuse, but also makes you want to read on to see the ending that you never saw coming. ¿Nothing to Lose¿ was by far the best book I read all summer, and I assure you that you¿ll enjoy it just as much as me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was awesome. it was so engaging and so exciting. the twists just make you want to keep turning the pages. it was really good. totally recommend it
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nothing to lose is an awesome book. It is about a boy name Michael Daye who has been following a carnival since he ran away from home in Miami, Florida. Now Michael is back in Miami with the carnival. His mom is on trial for killing her abusive husband, and only Michael knows the truth about his mothers and step-fathers downward spiral of a relationship, the truth about what actually happened on that crazy night of crying, bleeding and life threatening blows to the stomach of a pregnant woman. Now Michael has to decide turn himself in, to try and save his mother from persecution, or just continue on with the carnival and forget that he was ever back in Miami. What would you do? I thought that Nothing to Loose is an awesome book. It was full of many different quirks, so it kept you on the edge of your seat wondering what was going to happen next. Also Nothing to Loose is full of flash backs between when he was living with his mother and step-father, and the present where he is traveling with the carnival. Another part of the book that I enjoyed is how I could relate to him in the story when Michael ran away with the carnival, I remembered when I went to the carnival when I was younger I wanted to run away with it too. The only part about the book that I didn¿t like about the book is how it left you hanging at the end of the chapter, and made you have to wait for the following chapter to carry on with the chapter tense. Other than that I really enjoyed the book. Nothing to Loose reminds me of the movie Enough, because it involves an abusive relationship between two adults. Other books by Alex Flinn are Breathing Under Water , 'which I am currently reading' and many others. Both books are awesome. I am a junior high student who read Nothing to Loose with ease so I recommend it to any junior high student both books have to do with relationship problems either at home or with a girlfriend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was the best!!!!!