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Name all the animals : a memoir
Alison Smith
Adult Nonfiction BF575.G7 S58 2004

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From Publishers' Weekly:

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. (Feb. 10) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In her first book, Smith, an alumna of the Yaddo and MacDowell writers' colonies, shares the heartfelt story of her three-year struggle to come to terms with the untimely death of her older brother in a car accidentwhen she was 15. While psychologists and professional grief counselors would likely recognize her emotional state as major depression, lay readers will be less concerned with diagnosis than with the memorable writing, finding themselves enraptured by Smith's poignant revelations as she struggles to repair the hole in her heart. Further complicating her already high degree of stress is her journey through adolescence; her effort to establish an identity other than "the girl whose brother died"; a tenuous, heated romantic relationship with a girlfriend; and her work to keep alive her brother's memory while struggling with her parents and their grief, which also permeates this solidly written memoir. The author's clean, expertly paced prose is thankfully lacking in self-pity, and her heartbreaking, ultimately redemptive story will provide a deeper understanding of the human condition and the reality of death. Highly recommended for all public libraries and for academic libraries supporting the helping professions. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/03.]-Dale Farris, Groves, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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