Bookmarks Magazine's Reviews > Name All the Animals: A Memoir

Name All the Animals by Alison Smith
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's review
Feb 05, 2009

The title refers to Adam in the Garden of Eden, an apt metaphor for Smith's imperfect, even devastating, coming of age. Critics loved this first memoir, heavy in themes but subtle in presentation. Although Smith focuses primarily on herself, her relationship with Roy--and, through vivid memories, Roy himself--form the narrative's backdrop. Some passages verge on the maudlin. Smith saves food for Roy, cherishes his old sneakers, and communes with him at night. Yet she describes her life without Roy in a calm, clear prose that suggests her painful search for meaning in life. Name All the Animals is a touching portrait of adolescence, when hell, particularly an insular Catholic one, can be "as real as the next neighborhood."

This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine.

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