Select one of the keywords
The Namesake    by Steven Parlato order for
by Steven Parlato
Order:  USA  Can
F+W Media, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Steven Parlato has created a gripping coming of age story unlike any I have ever read. The Namesake is full of twists and turns and a raw climax that will get your pulse racing.

During the winter of his Junior year, fifteen-year-old Evan Galloway, encouraged by his art teacher, Mr. Pettafordi, is told to write what he knows for his college essay. Little does Mr. Pettafordi know he is opening a can of worms that has been closed for years. Evan decides to write about the one thing he does not know: why his father committed suicide the previous Easter.

Delving into his dad's old footlocker, Evan finds his father's journal. Within the first couple of entries Evan learns that keeping the journal was an assignment for a new teacher at St. Sebastain's who is still there and that Mr. Pettafordi was his father's best friend. With the help of his own best friend, Lexi, Evan goes to confront his teachers, who warn him that some secrets are best kept hidden. Evan, however, feels the need to know the truth, so he keeps digging. What he finds out sends his life into a tailspin as he begins to follow in his father's footsteps.

The Namesake was a book that I truly could not put down. As Evan's father's story slowly unfolds, different threads start to come together in unexpected ways. Parlato has created an engaging story and an honest portrayal of abuse. He also does not shy away from having Evan learn some difficult lessons in shocking ways, and not everything ends on a happy note. The only problem I had with the story is I could not figure out why Parlato had Evan skip two grades in school. The story would not have changed any had Evan been a fifteen-year-old Freshman or a seventeen-year-old Junior, and then I would not have been distracted the whole way through wondering why it was important.

If you are looking for a gripping, heartfelt story that falls squarely into the YA Saves category, The Namesake is it. I hope poet Steven Parlato tries his hand at more YA contemporary fiction as this is a powerhouse of a debut.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Teens books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews