Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Namesake

The Namesake by Steven Parlato
Merit Press, January 18, 2013

Summary from Goodreads:
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.
This was the third book I accepted from Merit Press, the new YA imprint from F&W. I thought the premise of this one was the most interesting of the three--Evan attempts to discover who his father really was after his father commits suicide. Sadly, I enjoyed this book the least out if the three (click to read my reviews of Louder Than Words and Girl in the Wall). I felt the story itself was strong--Evan discovers through his father's journal, art and cassette tapes that Evan Sr. was repeatedly molested by a trusted and respected adult in his community. It's a topic that needs to be discussed.

What kept me from truly enjoying the story was all the subplots. Evan is supposed to graduate early but I see no evidence why and I think this plot point could have been deleted. Likewise, he's supposed to be a super-talented artist like his dad, but we hardly ever see him create anything. Everyone says he's such a great student and kid but we don't see that. The relationship between Evan and his best friend Lex (who he loves, naturally) isn't as developed as it should be. Lex gas suffered from her own family trauma (we're led to believe molestation), but there's no reason for this plot point either. She is of no help to Evan once he discovers his father's past. There's a subplot involving a local restaurant that yes, does relate to the plot, but there are all these extra details that only divert your attention from the main plot.

Finally, there is one scene in the book that is so graphic that it just doesn't have a place in YA fiction. Now, you guys know me--you know that I don't get grossed out easily. This one thing, was just too much for me. Especially because **spoiler** the majority of the molestation is glossed over or alluded to. It seems that the author went to great lengths to make the descriptions of the molestation appropriate for teens, but this one thing just seemed to slip through. I don't know. For that reason I would recommend this title for older teens (emerging adults?) and adults.

ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Enjoy your reading!

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