Tell Me My Name

Dial. Mar. 2021. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593109724.
Gr 9 Up–For her whole life Fern has lived quietly with her two fathers, only sporadically interacting with the wealthy on Commodore Island. Then, with one word from the radiant recovering actress Ivy, her “origin story” begins. As her life intertwines with that of Ivy, the irresponsible Ash, and the twisted Tami, her Cinderella story rots until it collapses due to Fern and Ivy’s harmful desires. Fern craves worth given by “special” people, consequently devaluing herself, and Ivy wants real bonds, but can’t form them because she’s been crafted into an “object.” Despite their contrary qualities, their connection at the end will stun readers. Fern recounts her story mostly through internal monologue, and, like thoughts, she flits around and speaks in imagery. This gives the narrative a dreamlike quality, thoroughly saturating readers in the themes of identity and mental trauma. In this near-future story, climate change has led to migrations and environmental disasters, class gaps have widened, and corporations govern. But more notably, this book is about that desperate yearning to find one’s true self, be acknowledged, and to not be shaped by another’s designs. While Reed takes inspiration from The Great Gatsby, this story is her own and will likely resonate with teens—especially young women—even more than the classic. Fern’s ethnicity is not specified.
VERDICT An immersive, smartly written view into the mind of a young woman coping with her identity and trauma; a distinct perspective to add to the mental health fiction selection.

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