By Steven Parlato
Available now from Merit Press (F+W Media)
Winner of the 2011 Tassy Walden Award for New Voices, young adult category
Reading THE NAMESAKE was an emotional experience. I had to read it bit by bit over a couple of weeks, lest I be overwhelmed. Evan Galloway is haunted by his father's suicide, and the more he discovers about his father's secrets the worse it gets.
Evan was named for his father, although their middle names are different and he isn't a true Junior. He looks like his father, aside from his ears. He attends the same Catholic school his father did. He's interested in art too, although he prefers writing instead of painting. Evan wants to know that he isn't going to follow in his father's footsteps and to know that he has to know his father and why he did it.
THE NAMESAKE is beautifully written. Debut author Steven Parlato evoked several images that are going to linger in my mind. It's a story that tackles a lot beyond the big issues of suicide and sexual abuse. It is truly Evan's journey even if it is underpinned by his father's tragic story.
Some parts of THE NAMESAKE are very graphic. I don't regret reading the novel, but I do wish I could cut some of the details out of my mind. Parlato does not pull his punches, which makes the catharsis more powerful if more difficult to reach.
THE NAMESAKE is powerful, moving contemporary fiction that will appeal to fans of Beth Kephart and Laurie Halse Anderson. It is a very strong debut, and Parlato has left a mark even if he never writes another novel.