The main character of the book The Absolute Value of Mike, by Kathryn Erskine, is the son of a brilliant but absent-minded mathematician. Mike takes care of everything around the house. He pays the bills and handles all the day-to-day activities of the household. Although Mike's father is a mathematician, Mike suffers from a condition called dyscalculia, meaning that he has an inablity to process math problems. Mike's father wants him to become an engineer, a career which requires a lot of math. Mike does not want to disappoint his father, but he struggles with math because of his dyscalculia. He doesn't know how to tell his father that he does not want to be an engineer.
Mike learns that his father is going to Romania for work, and that he will not be going with him. The plan is to send Mike to live with his Great Aunt Moo and Great Uncle Poppy in Pennsylvania. Mike has never met them, and he is not happy about this arrangement. Upon his arrival Mike soon realizes that Poppy and Moo need his help more than he needs theirs. Poppy and Moo are living from Social Security check to Social Security check. Their home is in disrepair, and they are terrible at managing their finances.