Lori's Reviews > Name All the Animals: A Memoir

Name All the Animals by Alison Smith
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's review
Oct 21, 2009

it was amazing

Alison Smith's memoir, Name All the Animals, is wonderful. It is not often that a writer can depict so much beauty through their words that you feel as if you are experiencing what they are going through. Smith is able to use the subject of her life at a particularly painful time and transport the reader through her imagery to feel her and her parents pain, confusion, struggle and resolution as a result of her brother's death. The memoir begins with the fifteen year old Smith, discovering her 18 year old brother Roy has just died in a car accident. Everything is conveyed in such a clear, honest sense that you can easily imagine yourself in the families place, walking around on automatic just trying to grasp the enormity of the situation. Every member of the family deals with Roy's death in a different way, but all are clearly devastated. In this sense, the novel recounts without judgement how her parents focused on dealing with their son's death and as a result went to some extreme measures to protect her from the entire story and at the same time ignored alot of her signals for help. This in no way diminishes her admiration or devotion to her parents and her descriptons of their childhoods and courtship is particularly touching. On top of everything is the additional burden of going through adolescence during this traumatic time and we read about the measures Alison takes to keep Roy's memory alive. Much of the poignancy in this novel centers on Smith's relationships in highschool with her first crush, friends and the nuns at the Catholic School. As she approaches the end of her teenage years, her adulthood is marked with the acceptance of her brother's death and her decision to live and move on with her life. It is just a wonderfully written and touching story and I hope to see more work by Alison Smith.
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