Jen's Reviews > The Name of This Book Is Secret

The Name of This Book Is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch
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's review
Feb 10, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: 2009, children-s

I really enjoyed reading this book by someone with the best pen name ever. And it's about time someone wrote a great novel about synesthesia. I thought it had elements of Lemony Snicket and Philip Pullman.

Having said that, the stuff that bothered me, really bothered me. (Stop reading this review now if you want to avoid listening to a tirade. I guess I'm just in one of those moods!) There are some subtle and not-so subtle political messages that irked me because I'm morally conservative. I realize that all books have some kind of social commentary, but sometimes, because it's subtle and intentional and aimed at children, it feels more pernicious. How should I feel about openly gay characters in a children's novel? Or an anti-McDonalds soap box (however true)? It doesn't seem like my 9 year old is equipped yet to understand what the author is trying to do by including these issues. I know that reading a book is about being exposed to new ideas and having one's ideas challenged. But the goal of these ideas isn't about engaging my child in an honest exchange, but to indoctrinate him to accept a particular world view and set of values. For me, it was really such a small small part of what is otherwise a very light book that I was able to really enjoy reading it anyway. (And unlike my kids, I'm used to reading or not reading books that do this.) Someone else, though, might be offended, and perhaps rightly so. That's all I'm saying.
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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Dacisings Help me out. I must have missed the "openly gay" character. Who is it? And where is the anti mcdonalds stuff? I am really curious, cuz I missed both of those while reading it. Let me know. Now I want to go back and read it again to see where those are. Maybe I'm just really naive, but I totally missed those. Let me know. :)

message 2: by Jen (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jen Larry and Wayne are a gay couple. The McDonalds tirade is on pages 192-193.

Dacisings I must be really naive, because I thought Larry and Wayne were brothers or something. But now that you mention it I think you may be right. Too bad. I will also go back and read the McDonald's stuff. Thank you for the information. I really appreciate it.

Susan If you're interested in a great novel about synesthesia, have you read A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass? I read it with my daughter when she was, if I remember right, 12. They have some family issues but I don't recall anything overtly political in it, although it's been awhile since I've read it. My daughter loved it.

message 5: by May (new) - rated it 4 stars

May I actually wasn't bothered by Wayne and Larry being gay (they don't seem to be openly gay to be uncomfortable for kids) as much as the fact that they appear to be hoarders.

message 6: by Tam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tam Jen wrote: "Larry and Wayne are a gay couple. The McDonalds tirade is on pages 192-193."

Honestly, the fact that you had to point it out (and felt the need to) speaks volumes. No one every says so outright. They are two men living together. And there's not even any physical affection between them. No middle-grader would notice them. My son just accepted it at face value. I noticed it as an adult, and thought it was very well-handled because it's just incidental. No one who wasn't sensitive to it would find it. So essentially you've just outed them.

message 7: by Jen (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jen I'm sure they'll get over it, as one-dimensional as they are. This is essentially my criticism of the book (that is, from where I'm sitting three years later, not having reread it). The author just throws in a line or two about chocolate, or McDonalds, or The Modern Family but not in a way that gives you much to discuss. It doesn't have to be like Laurie Halse Anderson; even Beverly Cleary's Ramona books have more meat to them and still manage to be funny. In my review, I wrote that it felt like indoctrination; looking back, it just feels more like it's immaturity, like the author lacks the skills to make the book more than silly. This book is halfheartedly trying to be something it's not, which doesn't do any of the social issues justice.

Kathleen Gillis I appreciate your thoughts on the cultural pieces that made you bristle. I'm on the other side of the political spectrum and I liked the inclusion of the older, stable gay couple because it wasn't overt, it was a normal part of the character's life. My children have many gay family friends so it wouldn't raise an eyebrow in our house, but I could see where it might cause friction for folks who live differently.

Lauren Hey Jen,

If you are interested in Synthesia, a great book to read is A Mango Shaped Space. It's an absolutely beautiful book about a girl with Synthesia and the trials she goes through. Worth reading!!

message 10: by Jen (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jen Lauren wrote: "Hey Jen,

If you are interested in Synthesia, a great book to read is A Mango Shaped Space. It's an absolutely beautiful book about a girl with Synthesia and the trials she goes through. Worth read..."

I love Wendy Mass. I can't believe I haven't read that one yet. Thanks for the recommendation.

Assumpta Nina Larry and Wayne are not gay!!! They're like brothers! Just because they live together and stuff doesnt make them gay! The thing is I was 12 when I read this and that was about last year... and I never ever even thought about them being gay, because they aren't and Im sure kids wont see them as gays too. Some people are just so observant that they tend to create stuff regarding things in a book that seize to exist!

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