The Name She Gave Me

HarperTeen. Jun. 2022. 416p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780063157835.
Gr 7 Up–Her birth mother named her Scheherazade, the only thing she has from her. Renamed by her adoptive parents, Rynn finds her adoptive mother chilly and at times emotionally abusive. While her adoptive father is loving, he seems a bit obtuse when it comes to Rynn’s struggles with her mom. At 16, she is not of legal age to open her adoption records, but she remembers Grammie True was into genealogy, which prompts her to dig into her birth family history online herself. When her research turns up a deceased birth mother and a living biological sister, she is heartbroken but motivated to find the sister she never knew. Emotions run high in this novel-in-verse; Rynn feels erased when she learns her birth family never knew she existed. She takes comfort in the fact that birth mother “Sherry” Scheherazade shared her own name, and that her sister Sorella’s name literally means “sister.” The reflective tone is apparent during Rynn’s journey finding her own identity and the pieces she feels are missing. Her internal “multiverse” of adopted family/birth family/found family is introspective and evolving. Main characters in the story are white living on farmland in Maine. Culley notes that she was adopted from foster care and discovered siblings later in life. She portrays these families in nuanced ways as connections are forged.
VERDICT Melodic verse is perfect for the poignant moments that cultivate both compassion and hope. Recommended for all libraries serving teens.

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