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Name All the Animals

A Memoir

Alison Smith

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Description

A luminous, poignant true story, Alison Smith's stunning first book, Name All the Animals, is an unparalleled account of grief and secret love: the tale of a family clinging to the memory of a lost child, and a young woman struggling to define herself in the wake of his loss.
As children, siblings Alison and Roy Smith were so close that their mother called them by one name: Alroy. But on a cool summer morning when Alison was fifteen, she woke to learn that Roy, eighteen, was dead. This is Smith's extraordinary account of the impact of that loss -- on herself, on her parents, and on a deeply religious community.
At home, Alison and her parents sleepwalk in shifts. Alison hoards food for her lost brother, hides in the backyard fort they built together, and waits for him to return. During the day, she breaks every rule at Our Lady of Mercy School for Girls, where the baffled but loving nuns offer prayer, Shakespeare, and a job running the switchboard. In the end, Alison finds her own way to survive: a startling and taboo first love that helps her discover a world beyond the death of her brother.
An intimate book written in clear-eyed prose, Name All the Animals announces a brilliant new writer with a keen insight into the emotional life of the American family, the power of sibling love and loyalty, and the excruciating joy of first, forbidden love. Smith tells the story through her own fifteen-year-old eyes, with such expert pacing and narrative suspense that readers will find the book hard to put down.
Heartbreaking but hopeful, this is ultimately a book less about loss than it is about love -- about the excitement and anguish of Alison's first love, about her parents' enduring romance, about a community's passion for its faith, and about a well-loved boy who dies too young. A fiercely beautiful, redemptive book, it is sure to be a classic.

Publishers Weekly Review

10 November 2003 – In her first book, Smith, an alumna of the Yaddo and MacDowell writers' colonies, confidently weaves together aspects of a traditional coming-of-age memoir with a story of unimaginable loss. In lucid, controlled prose, she meticulously reconstructs her family's journey through the three years following her 18-year-old brother Roy's death in a car accident, just weeks before he was to start college, in 1984. Despite their overwhelming grief, Smith's devout Catholic parents' faith does not waver, but the 15-year-old Smith grapples with her beliefs. "I thought perhaps it was my fault that Roy had left us," she writes. "I thought I was being punished for some unknown sin." A student at a Rochester, N.Y., Catholic high school, Smith can't express her doubts, nor can she reveal her romantic feelings for one of her schoolmates, a less sheltered girl who introduces her to Colette and van Gogh. And even though Smith becomes exceedingly thin, her mother and father fail to notice she's anorexic. Name All the Animals (the title refers to Adam naming the animals in the Garden of Eden) includes many vivid images, although some of the language can seem too pretty and composed. The book closes with the third anniversary of Roy's death. "If I lived past the summer of my eighteenth year," Smith resolves, "I would have to face that Roy died and that I—the little sister, the tagalong... would surpass him." It's a brave ending to an impressive debut.
Name All the Animals
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  • 11,99 €
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biography
  • Published: 10 March 2004
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Print Length: 336 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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