Thursday, January 3, 2013

Book Review: The Namesake

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: The Namesake
Author: Steven Parlato
Publisher: Merit Press
Pages: Hardcover; 288
Release Date: January 18, 2013
Source: Publisher
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Abuse, Mild Violence
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who are okay with real, harsh issues in their writing.

Add it to: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Gifted artist? Standout student?

All his teachers are sure certain that Evan Galloway can be the graduate who brings glory to small, ordinary St. Sebastian's School.

As for Evan, however, he can't be bothered anymore.

Since the shock of his young father's suicide last spring, Evan no longer cares about the future. In fact, he believes that he spent the first fifteen years of his life living a lie. Despite his mother's encouragement and the steadfast companionship of his best friend, Alexis, Evan is mired in rage and bitterness. Good memories seem ludicrous when the present holds no hope.

Then Evan's grandmother hands him the key--literally, a key--to a locked trunk that his father hid when he was the same age as Evan is now. Digging into the trunk and the small-town secrets it uncovers, Evan can begin to face who his father really was, and why even the love of his son could not save him.

In a voice that resonates with the authenticity of grief, Steven Parlato tells a different kind of coming-of-age story, about a boy thrust into adulthood too soon, through the corridor of shame, disbelief, and finally...compassion.

Steven Parlato’s The Namesake totally knocked me off my feet. I can't honestly say that it was an easy read. It is emotionally draining and as gritty as they come. Parlato delves into the topic of abuse in a way that is original and thought provoking.

At first glance this book seems like any other coming-of-age book. Evan is a protagonist who has recently lost his father to suicide. He is still trying to deal with everything that comes after, especially with the emotional basket case his mother has become. Evan is smart, witty and sarcastic. It was easy to fall into the quirky writing style and into his life.

Then, things get dark. Evan discovers his father's journal, and enters the world of a man who he only thought he actually knew. The writing style turns from quirky to mysterious and sad, and it's hard not to follow him into the darkness. Religion plays a huge part in this novel as Evan searches for the meaning behind everything that has happened. In fact, the character growth in The Namesake is really what drew me in. Instead of falling into depression, Evan fights backs and looks for answers.

I realize that this review is probably fairly close to rambling, but that is how conflicted my feelings were after finishing. The Namesake is full of heartbreaking and real life issues. It reminds the reader that no matter how pristine people are on the surface, the darkness can always lie within. This is the type of book that keeps you reading, especially if you enjoy dark humor. It's jarring to be sure, but well worth your time. 

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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