cover image The Name She Gave Me

The Name She Gave Me

Betty Culley. HarperTeen, $17.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-315783-5

Culley’s (Three Things I Know Are True) evocative verse centers 16-year-old adoptee Rynn searching for answers about her past. Rynn lives on a Maine garlic farm with her soft-spoken Jewish father and her mercurial mother, whose personal traumas affect her relationship with Rynn. Though Rynn is content hanging out with her best friend or babysitting her toddler neighbor, she longs to learn about her birth family. But without her adoptive mother’s consent, she must wait until she turns 18 to access her official birth records. With encouragement from friends, Rynn uses one of the few clues she has—her atypical birth name, Scheherazade—to unearth her past on her own. Wistful verse highlights small but telling moments throughout Rynn’s search, from connecting with her biological half sister to growing increasingly distant from her adoptive family while seeking the love and acceptance she desperately needs elsewhere. The author’s lived history with foster care and adoption gives the narrative nuance and authority. Emotionally complex and empathetic characters (most of whom cue as white) and a faithfully depicted rural landscape form an exemplary backdrop for this contemplative novel. Ages 13–up. Agent: Steven Chudney, Chudney Agency. (June)