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Name All the Animals: A Memoir

Alison Smith

2,968 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0743255232 / ISBN 13: 9780743255233
Published by Scribner February 2005, 2005
Used Condition: Good Soft cover
From Dunaway Books (St. Louis, MO, U.S.A.)

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Name All the Animals: A Memoir

Publisher: Scribner February 2005

Publication Date: 2005

Binding: Paper Back

Book Condition:Good

About this title


The critically acclaimed, heartbreaking memoir that is at once a gorgeous, profound, and redemptive story of a family holding desperately to the memory of a lost child; and a touching, intelligent, and inspiring coming-out story.

A luminous, true story, Name All the Animals is an unparalleled account of grief and secret love: the tale of a family clinging to the memory of a lost child, and of a young woman struggling to define herself in the wake of his loss. As children, siblings Alison and Roy Smith were so close that their mother called them by one name, Alroy. But when Alison was fifteen, she woke one day to learn that Roy, eighteen, was dead.

Heartbreaking but hopeful, this extraordinary memoir explores the aftermath of Roy’s death: his parents’ enduring romance, the faith of a deeply religious community, and the excitement and anguish of Alison's first love—a taboo relationship that opens up a world beyond the death of her brother.


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

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