Name All the Animals: A Memoir

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9780743255226: Name All the Animals: A Memoir

Recounts the author's teenage experience of losing her beloved older brother in a car accident, a loss after which she managed her grief by engaging in self-destructive behaviors until her forbidden love for another girl helped her define herself beyond her brother's death. 75,000 first printing.

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Review:

Alison Smith’s close-knit Catholic family is the very picture of contentment--right up until the day her 18-year-old brother is killed in a car accident. In Name All the Animals, Smith walks readers through the breakdown and breakthroughs of her family in the days and years that follow.

Cleanly written and only occasionally maudlin, this memoir reads like a gritty coming of age novel. Included are all of the pieces one would expect in a book that starts with a death--bereft parents, good samaritan neighbors, even a somewhat rote post-funeral scene back at the house--but Smith manages to throw in a few unexpected curveballs. A sweetly scandalous lesbian experience, a pair of skinny-dipping nuns, and a suspiciously undetected bout of anorexia come together with a quiet but ever-present insurance investigation to create a truly original story.

Written in the same vein as The Lovely Bones or The Dogs of Babel, Smith’s story manages to convey the beauty that can be found in coming to terms with grief. Ultimately triumphant, this is a great read for anyone searching for meaning after the loss of a loved one. --Vicky Griffith

About the Author:

Alison Smith has been a resident at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. Her writing has appeared in McSweeney's and various anthologies. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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