Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Calling My Name” as Want to Read:
Calling My Name
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Calling My Name

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  905 ratings  ·  226 reviews
Calling My Name, by debut author Liara Tamani, is a striking, luminous, and literary exploration of family, spirituality, and self—ideal for readers of Jacqueline Woodson, Jandy Nelson, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Sandra Cisneros.

This unforgettable novel tells a universal coming-of-age story about Taja Brown, a young African American girl growing up in Houston, Texas, and
Published October 24th 2017 by Greenwillow Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.50  · 
Rating details
 ·  905 ratings  ·  226 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Calling My Name
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such an elegant book.

The cover is elegant, the writing is elegant, the atmosphere is whimsical and contemplative, the heroine is lovely, almost angelically so. Reading the whole story is just a pleasurable experience you won’t soon forget.

Liara Tamani has written here a very beautiful story about growing up amongst family members that do not always understand you. Although religion is important to Taja, unlike her parents, she feels the need to question some of her beliefs and explo
India Brown
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think capturing the essence of being a black Southern girl who loves God is something so specific that you have to experience it firsthand. It’s in the way we love, the way we pray, view nature, are in tune with our bodies and that inner voice. Before reading this book, Beyoncé’s Lemonade visual was the only other thing that captured it for me. Calling My Name is so lyrical, so beautiful and captures that essence so perfectly.

In 53 titled chapters, divided by 8 breaks introduced wi
(I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

This was a YA contemporary story about a teenage girl called Taja.

Taja was such a normal sort of girl with the normal sort of girl worries. I felt really sorry for her and the way she felt left out compared to her brother and sister, and the way she wasn’t prepared for her first period. She was also subject to a lot of peer pressure.

The storyline in this was about Taja gr
Black-A-Thon: Read a book by a black or African author

I have had Calling My Name since the summer of 2017. I got it as an ARC but never read it because I'm a bad person.

I wanted to read it because I thought the cover was beautiful. Anytime I see I black girl or boy on a book cover I add it to my TBR because its so rare. And yet I still kept putting off reading this for some reason. I wish I could say it was worth the wait but it was just okay. I mean I breezed through this and I di
sally♡ is reading cdth!!!
UPDATE 12/19/2017
So I am bringing this review down to four stars because I realized what felt off about it: to me, it felt like I was seeing this through glass. It all felt... muffled. Does that make sense? Like, there was something between me and the plot/characters that made it hard to connect.

*still super great though*

Reading Calling My Name was like reading poetry. It was beautiful and carefully written and impacted me in a way I didn't expect it would.
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favorites
I can hear the voices of some of the greatest African American writers echoing in the voice of

Liara Tamani's debut novel, Calling My Name.

Reading Calling My Name had me reminiscing not only on some of those books I've read, by the aforementioned authors--but reminiscing of my childhood and adolescent years.

I found pieces of my childhood in this story, and it made the story that much more enjoyable for me.

In this coming-of-age tale, Taja Brown, seem
Nikki S
African American girl. Growing up IN Houston, Texas?! GIMMIE.


Eh..... Real review to come.
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a quietly beautiful book. It's lyrical, soft and easy. It's a story that spans time with only light theme within it. There's no urgency and what kept me reading was the beautiful writing. While not in verse it had a similar feel to it.
It has a theme of the MC being in a religious family and feeling those pressures to always be good.
If I were to complain it would be that I wish it had expanded on this more. But that is largely because of my own beliefs and way I was raised. I do not bel
Cori Reed
A beautiful little book told in vignettes, I enjoyed reading this one.
Booksandchinooks (Laurie)
I received a free copy of this book from Harper Collins Canada for an honest review. This story is told by Taja, from middle grade to high school, as she searches for who she really is and what she really believes. The book seems to take place around the early 90’s but we are never told this. Taja’s African American parents live their life around their faith and want to instil that in their children’s lives. The parents do have a different set of rules for their son vs their daughters which caus ...more
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The rating applies to the book as a whole, if I were to pick it apart I would probably rate it lower which is a shame.

I liked the sort of "Boyhood" layout of the story as we follow Tara from girlhood to the brink of adulthood. It was also nice to have a novel feature faith/religion without the normal dismissiveness you read about, or that obvious character rebellion/disbandment of it without any contextual layers.

The writing style for some reason I couldn't quite connect with. No cl
Ughhhh. I wanted to like this. And I feel bad for not liking it. I feel like it was so black and I loved that! I relate to Taja a lot. I just didn’t really care about her enough. I skipped through most of the book. I was just bored. I feel bad.
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-average
"I’m busy noticing I’m alive."

I think this book went over my head at the speed of freaking light. ⚡
Oh, what’s that?? This whole book, it seems.

Reason for that I think is the writing style.
Maybe I’m just too dumb but there was something off regarding the writing style. I can’t pinpoint the reasons why it didn’t resonate with me but it…just…didn’t. 🤷🏻♀
Because of it, I felt detached from the characters and their adventures; everything was slightly confusing and foggy. It was l**
The plot did not exactly interest me in the beginning, but it is definitely compelling to watch the character develop and grow. The author did not just state the age of the character, but you can find clues of which stage win life she is at. Cool book, I would recommend it to people who would like to witness an intense change of a character throughout a book.
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine yourself as a young girl, unsure of herself, and trying desperately to find your footing in a world where the messages are mixed (at best), and wrong (at worst). That’s where we first meet Taja.

As she navigates the social spectrum—from middle and on through high school—she’s forced to answer questions about who she wants to be: her parents expect her to remain steeped in God. He is to be her eternal guide where all decisions of the heart, head, and body are concerned.

Unfortunately for
This book is a character-driven story about a black girl growing up and dealing with all the problems adolescence offers (and we all know it's a lot of problems). I have to admit that the main reason I picked this up was because of the cover, I think it's so BEAUTIFUL. However, the writing just wasn't for me. I really appreciate some little moments of it, but I got to like page 120 and all the side characters were flat and underdeveloped. Page 120, and I had NO idea as to how any of the characte ...more
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
This novel addresses the challenges of exploring sexuality while growing up in a strictly religious family. Additionally, it covers the struggles between belonging to an organized religion and finding one's own understanding of spirituality. As you can see, these are some heavy topics for a young adult novel, but the author handles them in a way that is honest and direct. The language is a cut above typical young adult fiction, so there were many passages that I felt would be worth exploring in ...more
This book, set in a recognizable past (my guess is the 90s based on the name checks on things), follows Taja Brown from her middle school through the end of her high school days. It's told through vignettes, in a way that is really unique and engaging, with gorgeous prose to accompany the story.

Readers looking for stories about religious teens, coming of age as a black girl, and/or the tensions and challenges that can exist between teens and their parents will enjoy this a lot.

Totally appropri
Morelia (Strandedinbooks)
Set in Houston, TX? Where I was born and raised? YES PLEASE!

Calling My Name truly attracted me at the bookstore because of its' beautiful cover though I knew not to judge a book by its' cover so I looked over the premise. The premise itself was interesting but questionable at first. I loved seeing a coming of age story about a black teen on the store shelves, but can a girl's middle and high school years be thoroughly explored in fifty-three chapters. Eh, I was willing to take the risk, but the answer is a firm no!

This a character-driven story, so I was not/>

Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story touched me a lot more than I thought it would. It's a beautifully flowing coming of age story about Taja, a black girl from a religious family. It's written in an almost poetic way, which made the audio book really pleasant.

I loved how the book encompasses so much time, as we are with Taja whilst she grows from middle grade to high school graduation, and with that the topics of the story.
It's in first person perspective, which I thought was really fitting for this book, and was an i
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a poetic coming of age story that portrays emotions in a viscerally engaging way. Taja's adolescent confusion, curiosity, and conflicted feelings about sex and her religion are captured very well.
that all said, there were some really cringe-worthy microaggressions here and there that put me off
TWs: body/fat-shaming, ableism, transmisia, slut-shaming/misogyny, racism
-the most prevalent microaggressions were body/fat-shaming, and it was kind of hypocritical coming from someone wh
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bhm, poc, 2017, bw, tops, pbrecs, 59
I really liked this (obviously, hence the rating). It's a coming of age told in episodic vignettes, and it really doesn't have an overarching plot throughline except that it follows Taja from middle to high school. Tamani really explores the conflict between loving God while also bumping up against the rampant sexism and misogyny of the church (#notallchurches). My heart really ached for Taja during specific points, especially as she got closer to Andre.

The only thing I wanted that t
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, ya-fiction
I received an Advanced Reader Copy at Book Expo 2017.

A beautifully written coming of age story. We follow Taja from middle grade up through high school graduation. We experience all her firsts. We follow her as she tries to figure out who she is and what she believes. I especially loved her spiritual journey as she discovers how she wants to experience God, not just in church but in and around her.

Highly recommend.
Nakesha Brown
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teens, african-american teen girls, religious girls
I loved this book! The writing style was so lyrical, poetic. It drew me in from the first sentence. At times it felt a bit disjointed, like snippets of Taja's life as opposed to a full story but I still enjoyed it. I related so much to Taja. I grew up in a household where church and religion was very important. Navigating growing up, hormones and religious expectations really hit home for me. It was the best coming of age story I read in a long time.
Tiffany Nichols
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book! Having 3 daughters, I find it especially important expose them to books with main characters with whom they can relate. Not only is it a beautiful story, but the author does such an amazing job of transporting you right into the main character's shoes. We need more positive books like this! Great read!
Michelle Leonard
Overall, I enjoyed this book but found certain parts to be overly detailed or slow. I liked some of the cultural references as they reminded me of my own childhood.
Rec-It Rachel
Quiet and beautiful. Reminiscent of Sandra Cisnero's HOUSE ON MANGO STREET
May 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-reads
Trigger warnings: sl*t shaming, terminal illness and death of family.

The writing is beautiful. It reads like a cross between slam poetry/verse and proper text which takes on a very different feel in audiobook. I really liked the lyricism of the book.

The MC is black and Christian and is going through a whole lot of coming of age pain. She struggles with sexuality and purity, faith and it's absolutism, and societal double standards for girls and boys. All of this was beautifully done but I could
Ms. Yingling
I was intrigued by the cover and didn't read the description. Definitely a Young Adult/New Adult book, with graphic sexual content. Lyrical writing made it somewhat challenging to follow plot. Just not a middle grade novel
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The BookWonderlan...: February Book 5 16 Mar 02, 2018 04:43PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Monday's Not Coming
  • Odd One Out
  • Let Me Hear a Rhyme
  • Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America
  • With the Fire on High
  • Tyler Johnson Was Here
  • More to Life
  • On the Come Up
  • The Poet X
  • Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now
  • Allegedly
  • The Closest I've Come
  • The Education of Margot Sánchez
  • Who Was Eleanor Roosevelt?
  • The Authentics
  • The Stars Beneath Our Feet
  • American Street
  • Love, Hate & Other Filters
See similar books…
Liara Tamani lives in Houston, Texas. She holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College. She is the author of the acclaimed Calling My Name, which was a 2018 PEN America Literary Award Finalist and a 2018 SCBWI Golden Kite Finalist, and All the Things We Never Knew.


1. Her friends call her Lili.

2. She believes that love is the most powerful
“The tardy bell rings, but I'm still here, staring at the symbol for women, wondering why we're the ones who have to make babies, why we're the ones who have to deal with the blood, the stains, the shame.” 4 likes
“The bus stops right in front of our house and takes me day to day, week to week, and month to month of the same girls saying the same things. But at the end of March, as I stand on the stage, accepting my award for receiving 100 percent in every class for the whole month, I catch a glimpse of myself in the certificate's shiny gold stamp and finger my baby hair back away from my face. I know I'm not going to get stuck on the bus with those girls. I'm going to travel places too far for them to see, miles and miles outside of being black, past the snap of their fingers with the complementary 'Baby, boom,' 'Baby, pop,' or 'Baby, please,' past anything they say about me until I can feel them so far behind that I can look back and see stupid little girls, still occasionally talking their smack, pushing me on.” 2 likes
More quotes…