Patricia J. O'Brien's Reviews > With a Name like Love

With a Name like Love by Tess Hilmo
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's review
Dec 03, 11

Read from November 25 to December 01, 2011

This is what might be known as a quiet book--a middle grade, historical fiction about a girl whose father is a traveling preacher. I usually read YA or adult fantasy/dystopian but, I was drawn in completely to Ollie's world and her huge heart and courage. And even though Tess Hilmo's writing is rich in detail and atmosphere, a sense of urgency and danger begins early and stays through the story.
I like that this book is never preachy, despite being about a family who travel from town to town to spread the gospel. Perhaps because Ollie's father is named Everlasting Love he is infused with compassion and a good-hearted nature that extends to all the family. That is not to say Hilmo's characters don't have faults and family squabbles--they do, and the dynamic feels authentic.
But when the family pulls their travel trailer into the small town of Binder, they find more than expected after Ollie befriends a boy whose mother is in jail for killing his father. Soon Ollie and her family are on the nasty side of intimidation from townsfolk who want them to leave.
My heart was captivatd by their strength in standing up for what they believe is right.
Here are some samples of style:
"Ollie played along and pretended not to see the boy, with his orange shirt and scraggly brown hair. He continued to follow them, blending into the tree shadows, as they walked down the last bit of farm road and turned onto Main Street.
Binder was a pitiful place, worn thin from years of want. It was exactly like all the other towns her daddy dragged them through. It was exactly the kind of nothing Ollie had come to expect.
Except, maybe for that boy."
And about her daddy:
"Reverend Love's voice was rich as molasses and deep as the Grand Canyon. It had power about it that made people reach into their pockets even when they didn't come with the intention of donating to the cause. He called it his trademark. Ollie's mama called it their only salvation."
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