January 21, 2013

The Namesake by Steven Parlato + Excerpt

The Namesake
Title: The Namesake
Author: Steven Parlato
Series: N/A
Source: Publisher for review
Publisher: Merit Press
Publication Date: January 18, 2013
GoodReads||The Book Depository
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.
Oh God. This book is something else-- and honestly, it was fantastic, but it deals with some very, very dark and taboo subjects. It honestly gets more and more graphic as you read, until you're at the point where you honestly don't want to hear anymore, but you still have to know what happens. You have to know why he did it. Why Evan's dad committed suicide. And the results WILL surprise you.

I think that my only real issue with this book WAS that it was unbelievably graphic. It was pretty insane, and I can honestly tell you that there are some things that I never really wanted to know...ick. But as icky as some of those subjects were, they are what made the story so unforgettable.

Evan was a good character-- I'll give him that. But I do have some gripes that are similar to another blogger's. Evan is supposed to be CRAZY SMART. Genius level, even. But it seems like he's just a regular kind of guy. He doesn't act like the guy from An Abundance of Katherines (who's always making up a mathematical equation for everything), nor is he really all that groundbreaking. We see very little mention of his "geniusishness". He just seems like a normal kind of guy.

Another thing that kinda made this book a tad weird was that it was all Catholic. (Not that I'm against catholicism, but it seemed used a lot for a guy who was quite a cusser, if you catch my drift). It just seemed like he wasn't really Catholic-- all we see is that he goes to a Catholic school. I wish that his actual religion had been used as a key part of the character development, because that would have been super cool.

All in all, I enjoyed The Namesake, but it disturbed me so much that I had to knock a star off of the rating. It was so graphic that I often found myself not wanting to read more, but dying to find out what had happened. Is this a bad thing, or a good thing? You decide.
Am I getting desensitized or something? It's like nothing else could surprise me, affect me even. I've developed an emotional callous. ~ Pg. 273, ARC

Mister Pettafordi's office is examining room bright.

It makes me queasy, like I'm here for X-rays -- which, in a way, I am. My art teacher slash guidance counselor slash "Think of me as your friend" wants to help. That's how I landed in the vinyl visitor chair on the wrong side of his desk. I should be in silent study, passing notes to Alexis. Instead, I'm here, embarrassed for Michelangelo's David. He's beside the file cabinet, a red umbrella hanging from his crooked elbow, looking a little vulnerable, naked under the lights.

I need to write this stupid essay. Mr. P's fixated on getting me a full scholarship; he says I'm his "best student ever." But then, that's what my teachers always say.

Mister P: "Evan, you need to pursue your art."

Me: "Uh-huh."

Mister P: "Evan, you've got what it takes."

Me: "Hmm."

Mister P: "Evan, follow your dream!"

Thing is, I think it's his dream more than mine now.

But I'm trying to get a jump on this heap of applications. Pettafordi said I need to "dazzle them" with my essay. I asked what I should write about.

He said, "Evan, write what you know."

As helpful as that was, I've chosen the opposite. See, I'm not sure I want to study art, or even go to college anymore. So I'll write what I don't know. I could do twenty pages on spark plugs or the reproductive cycle of the Andean potato weevil. Except, those I could research. No. I'll tackle the true unknown.

I never knew my father.

I don't mean that in a trash TV kind of way. Like, Up Next, DNA Tests: Real Dads Revealed! It's not like that. Mom wasn't a sperm bank patron. I wasn't raised by wolverines. I've lived most of my fourteen years in a room two doors down from the man, falling asleep to his snores. I could map you his morning stubble, a whorl on his chin like Madagascar. Nope. Nothing dramatic about the Galloways. We were typical. Mom made Campbell's soup casseroles. Dad fell asleep in the leather chair on movie night. We were about as normal as it gets. At least, that's what everyone thought.

Before last April.

Now when I think about stuff, it's all about how it used to be. We used to have Monopoly marathons. Build model planes. Gorge ourselves at China Buffet. We used to . . . whatever.

A great philosopher once said, "Used-to-bes don't count anymore."

Okay, it was this singer, Neil Diamond. My friend Alexis is a huge fan. But I disagree with Old Neil because, really, used-to-bes are the only things that do count anymore.Especially when today sucks so bad.

It's funny how perfectly life splits into before and after. Before, it was just life, crappy or un'. After, everything's different.

But I was going to tell you about my father.

My Father by Evan Galloway
My father is tall.
My father is fun.
My father reads stories
and Plays with me.
My father is the best, FATHER NUMBER ONE!

I wrote that in first grade. You could say my opinion of him has evolved. For one thing, I realized he was never all that tall. I admit the poem loses something sans macaroni frame, but I think it shows real literary promise. I mean, after reading that, I'm sure you can see how I ended up in Honors English, right?

Yeah, I'm smart. All through school I've been in the brain group: TAG, the Talented And Gifted Program. It's actually sort of cool, loads of field trips, elaborate, "self-guided learning opportunities." Sure, the regular kids call us "Tag Fags," but that's never really bothered me. Not much. It's jealousy, plain and simple. And come on -- tag fag? -- such an obvious rhyme. Leave it to a remedial reader.

Now I'm at Saint Sebastian's Catholic High School, third year, following Dad's footsteps. Yeah, he went here. But I one-upped the old man; I'll graduate at sixteen. They jumped me a couple grades. So I'm the second Evan Galloway to attend SSCHS. My family calls me "Junior," but technically, I'm not. Dad and I don't have the same middle name. Or, didn't. I do that sometimes, refer to him like he's still here. Like he didn't kill himself last spring. Like Gran didn't find him hanging from a beam in her attic Easter morning, while Mom and I were at Mass.


  1. Sounds like a compelling book despite the graphic stuff. Great review.
    Happy reading,
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

    1. Eh, compelling yes. But VERY graphic. o_O Thanks! (:

  2. This book looks really different from anything I've read. I think I want to read it, I'm pretty sure I can handle the graphic-ness, that stuff doesn't normally bother me in books. Now, movies, that's another story haha. Great review!

    1. It was DEFINITELY different than anything I've read before, LOL. Eh, in horror books, graphic-ness is nothing. But in a book like this, it just freaked me out pretty badly, LOL. Haha, I know what you mean! Thank you! (:

  3. Well, this sounds interesting. I love novels that get graphic, but this seems like it is a little too much. LOVED your review, Megan
    Your reader,

    1. Eh, interesting, yes. Graphic, yes. Sounds like a win-win for you, if you like graphic books! Thanks Soma! (: