The Namesake. Steven Parlato. Twisted Lit Series. Merit Press. YA Fiction. January 2013. 256 pp. pbk. ISBN # 9781440554579.
Evan is dealing with the worst grief possible, the death of his father by suicide. As Evan was growing up, his father and he had a special one-day-a-year ritual in which one could ask a question and the other would answer with the absolute truth. And like his father, Evan is a very gifted artist.
All of that interest in art falls to the wayside along with all other interest in school and friends. But Alex is a female friend whom Evan still trusts implicitly. Alex keeps his head to earth, not allowing him, after a sufficient amount of time, to use grief as an excuse to keep from living. Evan, however, is haunted by his need to know why his father hung himself and why he was so unhappy.
Finally, his grandmother acknowledges his need and gives him a key, nothing else but a key. This begins his search for the truth, which he finds in a trunk holding his father’s secret stash. It’s a diary that he reads very slowly because he can only tolerate so much. At the same time, he finally decides he wants to go on a religious weekend called “Encounter.”
To tell more would be to spoil an amazing evolution in Evan’s attitude as revelation after revelation comes from the journal and from others who knew his father. Although some would say that the news he finally learns would crush another teen, Evan returns to his art to express what he now thinks and feels about the agony his Dad held within for so very long.
The Namesake is a MUST read for all young adults. It could happen to you or to someone you know. It won’t happen if you read this phenomenal story. Yes, it’s fiction but it’s real and painfully credible; it’s pre-knowledge and part cure for an issue that haunts too many young lives. Kudos to you, Steven Parlato, for tackling this topic with such grace and power!