cover image The Namesake

The Namesake

Steven Parlato. F+W Media/Merit Press, $17.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4405-5457-5

Parlato constructs an introspective debut about the aftershocks of family trauma. Fifteen-year-old Evan Galloway, a talented artist and good student, is reeling from the suicide of his father on Easter. Evan is determined to begin "Dad-excavating" his father's past, since his repressed family won't help him find the reasons for his father's decision. Evan mines his father's paintings, tapes, journal entries, and poems, as well as contacting his father's former teachers and employers, patching together the life of a man he never really knew. Meanwhile, Evan's relationship with his best friend (who's recovering from sexual abuse) is morphing into an unrequited romance. Evan's journey%E2%80%94locating the wounds in his father's past (in which Catholicism played a large part), unburdening himself of blame and the fear that he will follow in his father's footsteps, and salvaging his current relationships%E2%80%94is complex and solidly woven. Though the dialogue occasionally lacks the shine of Parlato's prose, his ambitious, well-executed plot twists and nimbly handled cast make him a name to watch. Ages 14%E2%80%93up. Agent: Victoria Marini, Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency. (Jan.)