cover image Calling My Name

Calling My Name

Liara Tamani. Greenwillow, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-265686-5

Tamani’s debut novel brims with heart and soul, following its African-American protagonist, Taja Brown, as she searches for spirituality, love, and a sense of self during middle school and high school. Expressive writing creates intimacy from the outset, and Taja’s relationship with God is especially absorbing; even when her spirituality isn’t explicitly discussed, it shapes her actions and the way she views the world. Her honesty about her doubts and her desire find God on her own terms make her relatable and real. “I want to tell Gigi everything: my doubts about good people going to hell just because they happen to be a different religion or happen to mow their lawns or wash their cars or plant begonias on Sunday instead of going to church,” Taja reflects during a visit to see her ailing great-grandmother. “Most of all, I want to tell Gigi about the God I feel inside of me when I get still.” The discussion of religion never feels heavy handed or prescriptive; it’s clear that Taja’s journey is hers alone. Ages 14–up. [em]Agent: Jennifer Carlson, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (Oct.) [/em]