Published by HarperTeen on June 21, 2022
Genres: Contemporary, Verse, Young Adult
Source: The Publisher
Cover Artist: Kimberly Glyder
From the acclaimed author of Three Things I Know Are True comes a new novel in verse, a deeply emotional story about an adopted teenager exploring the meaning of family, friendship, and love in all its many forms.
Perfect for fans of Robin Benway, Cynthia Hand, and Jandy Nelson, Rynn’s journey shows how complicated and infuriating, yet healing, family can be.
When Rynn was born, her birth mother named her Scheherazade. It’s one of the only things Rynn has from her. Now sixteen, Rynn and her adoptive parents live on a small garlic farm in central Maine. Rynn’s father is kind and gentle but oblivious to Rynn’s mother’s temper and coldness toward their daughter.
Rynn has longed to know her birth family for years. She can’t legally open her adoption records until she turns eighteen, but that won’t stop her from searching on her own. She finds out that though her birth mother has died, she has a younger sister—who’s in foster care two towns away. But if Rynn reconnects with her biological sister, it may drive her adoptive family apart for good.
“Wistful verse highlights small but telling moments throughout Rynn’s search…The author’s lived history with foster care and adoption gives the narrative nuance and authority. Emotionally complex and empathetic characters…and a faithfully depicted rural landscape form an exemplary backdrop for this contemplative novel.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Compassionate and compelling.”
This emotionally compelling novel in verse is a bittersweet portrayal of the complexities of adoption. Rynn has wondered her whole life where she came from. She’s always known she was adopted, but since the adoption was closed, she doesn’t know anything about her birth family. And, to complicate matters more, her relationship with her volatile adoptive mother ranges from strained to miserable, depending on the day. As an adoptive mom myself, I’ll admit that sometimes this book was tough to read. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture of the joys of adoptive families. Rynn’s pain over missing out on her biological ties is palpable, and her adoptive family life is unfortunately pretty terrible because of her mom (she does have a close relationship with her dad, though).
But, families are families, right? Some are idyllic and some are pretty rough, whether they’re biological or adoptive. And I know firsthand that adoption does add an extra layer of complexity (and difficulty) to the parent-child relationship. There is trauma there that can sometimes feel impossible to navigate. In the case of my family, we have gotten to a really good place, but there were times when my son was young (he was adopted at age three-and-a-half) that I questioned everything. It wasn’t the easy transition that gets portrayed in the after-school-specials about adoption. This book portrays the realities of growing up feeling like something is missing in your life (I’ve had nights where I had to sit with my kiddo and try to help him process the fact that his family “gave him away”). And it depicts the very real difficulties that come with navigating painful family relationships, whether they are biological or not. But in the end, the book gives us hope for the resilience of the human spirit. As Rynn discovers her family ties, she also finds that she can stand up for herself (and her newly-discovered younger sister) in ways she never imagined. And she realizes that the ties she has with friends may be some of the most valuable in her life as well—and that family can be defined in many ways.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Media Masters Publicity so I could provide an honest review. No compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
A Book by the Cover
by Betty Culley
In THE NAME SHE GAVE ME, Rynn lives on a garlic farm in Maine, and her adopted father grows and sells garlic. When my editor emailed me to ask about what I envisioned on the cover of the book, I was thrilled and grateful to be able to offer my input.
What first came to mind was garlic! I took photos of the garlic we had growing in our own garden at the time and sent them to her to share with the art department. They included pictures of garlic, close to harvest time, with the signature ‘scape’ at the top. When mature, a scape bulblet, looks like a miniature garlic. Scapes are routinely cut off when immature so that the plant will direct its energy to making a bigger underground garlic bulb. The immature scapes can be used in cooking. If left to mature, scapes make a bulblet that can be broken up and planted to grow more garlic.
On the cover, you can see the little garlic-shaped scape at the top of the plant.
On my computer, you can see the beautiful garlic design detail from the inside of THE NAME SHE GAVE ME.
My writing desk looks out at our garden and orchard and this time of year, from my window, I can see the long rows of garlic! They are still young now and haven’t grown the scapes yet.
About the Author
Betty Culley’s debut novel in verse Three Things I Know Are True, was a Kids’ Indie Next List Top Ten Pick, an ALA-YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Nominee, and the 2021 Maine Literary Book Award Winner for Young People’s Literature. Her first middle-grade novel Down to Earth was inspired by her fascination with meteorites, voyagers from another place and time. She’s an RN who worked as an obstetrics nurse and as a pediatric home hospice nurse. She lives in central Maine, where the rivers run through the small towns.
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Blog Tour Schedule:
June 27th — Feed Your Fiction Addiction
June 28th — BookHounds
June 29th — YA Book Nerd
June 30th — A Dream Within a Dream
July 1st — Utopia State of Mind
I’m not one for books in verse, but this one sounds really good! I’ll definitely be adding it to my school library for my students. Great review!
If I changed my name it would be to Sakura.
I got some tears in my eyes reading this review. This book sounds beautiful.
What a beautiful review. My two children were adopted and we’ve had some serious talks too.
This book has been on my radar for ages, and I’m so glad you loved it- because that means I probably will too! 😂 Thanks for the review, it sounds fabulous!! Idk what I’d change my name to, though. I never really felt like a “Shannon”, but I also never felt like anything else either!
I would change my name to Belinda.
wouldn’t change it
[…] THE NAME SHE GAVE ME BY BETTY CULLEY: REVIEW, GUEST POST AND GIVEAWAY […]
Hmm, great question. As an adult, I don’t really have a desire to change my name. I remember wanting to be Rachel or Renee when I was a kid, though.