Wendy's Reviews > With a Name like Love

With a Name like Love by Tess Hilmo
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Sep 07, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: 2011-award-possibilities
Read from January 05 to 06, 2012

A reluctant two stars because really, I've read less competently-written books this year. If this book had come out of a small Christian press I would have said "hey, this book is pretty good considering it came out of a small Christian press". But it did not. Now, considering that when I was a kid I thought Love Comes Softly was a good book, and didn't realize it was a tract (and badly written to boot), there's no reason to think that plenty of kids won't like this, whether they're evangelical Christians or not. But it isn't Newbery material in language, characterization, or plot development. And there's so much to dislike about it. Just to take a stab at one thing, the parents are perfect paragons and even though the protagonist is thirteen, she doesn't even hint at rebelling against them and even ends up putting her own wants/needs behind what her family wants. You know, like every thirteen-year-old girl you ever met or ever were. Praying saves the day at least a couple of times, the community comes together for no discernible reason except maybe the power of God, "by their works shall ye know them" gets illustrated... this book is perfect for all the nice evangelical families out there if they don't get too freaked out by the frog massacre, which is pretty disturbing. I recommend it for that reviewer who wonders whether The Witch of Blackbird Pond doesn't have an anti-obedience message. There's nothing to disturb you here.

Previously: I feel like I will die if I read another middle-grade novel with this setting, but you know how it goes. Newbery buzz. I will risk death.
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Reading Progress

01/05/2012 page 27
11.0% "Creep-alert is already up because the protagonist's father is a traveling preacher, and then I come across this bit: "He reached over and pulled his daughter close. She snuggled into the crook of his arm and let the sharp, nutty smell of his Mennen deodorant soothe her troubled spirit. She thought of how incredibly lucky her mama was to have rights to his cuddle and smell every day of her life." EW." 2 comments
01/06/2012 page 115
46.0% "Good lord. This is a perfect storm of everything Melody would hate in a book."

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Melody (new)

Melody Better you than me. This sounds deadly.


Alanna I will agree that this book is probably better suited to a Christian (or at least religious) audience, but to criticize it because the parents are actually good people and because the 13-year-old doesn't rebel against them seems like the dumbest complaint in the world. I found it refreshing to read a book where the parents and children actually discuss things and try to do what's best for the family. What could possibly be wrong with that? It might not be how every 13-year-old or every family would act, but who reads a novel only to see how normal people react in situations? If Hilmo had written Ollie like any old rebellious 13-year-old, people would be complaining because it was such a cliche!


Wendy Because that isn't how people are. I didn't think there was anything real about these parents, or that the protagonist was in any was a real 13-year-old. She didn't have to be a typical "rebellious" teen, but adolescence is a developmental stage characterized in part by rebellion. That rebellion takes many forms, and can be mild or drastic. It's absent in this character.

I didn't complain about the parents because they "are actually good people"; I said they are perfect paragons. My parents are the best people I know, but they are far from perfect.


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