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Reviews

• Shortlisted for the BookSense Book of the Year Award
• Named one of the ten best books of the year by People
• Won The Discover Award from Barnes & Noble
• Nominated for an Original Voices award by Borders Books
• Won a Lamdba Literary Award
• Named one of the ten most notable lesbian books of the year by The Publishing Triangle
• Nominated for best book of the year by UK's Diva magazine

"Makes time stand still and your coffee go cold beside you."
--Elissa Schappell, The New York Times Book Review

"Smith writes with such assured distance that this quiet examination of grief reads more like biography than autobiography, and diplays a novelist's gift for revealing character."
--Newsweek

"Stunning...[a] story of survival and sexual awakening."
--O, The Oprah Magazine

"Sometimes a friend will ask you about a book you've read and everything you say winds up sounding inadequate. Name All the Animals is that kind of book... Smith has written a beautiful, completely unsentimental memoir so full of love and sorrow and the stuff of everyday that you live in as much as read it. This is the story of my life, too, told so I finally understand it. Which, in the memoir department, means that is pretty perfect. "
--Anna Quindlen, Book-of-the-Month Club judge, writing in BOMC News



Praise from Authors

"Tender, sad, and without a trace of self-pity, Name All the Animals is a beautiful memoir.
I'll never forget it."
- Haven Kimmel, Author of A Girl Named Zippy and Something Rising (Light and Swift)

"I am speechless with admiration. Name All the Animals demands a 'must-read' list of its own. I find it hard to imagine the reader who would end Smith's book and not have tucked away a deeper, more profound inderstanding of how we survive this human condition of faith and grief, of love and life."
- Judy Blunt, Author of Breaking Clean

"To read Name All the Animals is to witness a fieerce battle between a teenager's despair and her almost subconscious will to survive and find joy. In poetic but understated prose, Smith carries the reader through her grief without ever resorting to fairy tales or half-truths; her refusal of easy comforts is what gives this memoir so much weight and beauty. I will recommend it to everyone I know."
- Laura Moriarty, Author of The Center of Everything

"The grief in this memoir is the size of Goliath.... Ms. Smith, with scrappy, unsentimental grace, battles her giant and wins our spectator hearts. Her brother, her schooldays, her prose, her candor -- all are lean and vital. Alison Smith is a cool warrior of writer, but she makes us want to hug her and her story with every possible human warmth."
- David Schickler, Author of Kissing in Manhattan

"In refusing to lose her brother, Roy, Smith gives us a memoir devoted to what truly matters. It has been a long time since I have read an account of a daughter, son, mother, and father who love one another, free of resentments and pettiness. Name All the Animals is a memoir that celebrates a lost life and escorts us past sorrow into the drama of a love story."
- Laura Shaine Cunningham, Author of Sleeping Arrangements and A Place in the Country



From The Critics

Time Out, 4-21-04
The Times (London), 4-16-04
The Observer, 4-4-04
Sunday Telegraph (London), 4-4-04
New York Times Book Review, 3-21-04
ABA - Bookselling this Week, 3-11-04
The Miami Herald, 2-29-04
The New York Times, 2-23-04
People Magazine, 2-23-04
Newsday (New York), 2-22-04
Metro Weekly (DC), 2-19-04
Daily Hampshire Gazette (Review), 2-18-04
Daily Hampshire Gazette (Bio), 2-18-04
Newsweek, 2-16-04
Entertainment Weekly, 2-13-04
The Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2-8-2004
The Journal News, 1-15-04
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 1-12-04
Elle Recommends . . .
O Magazine
OUT TRAVELER - Spring Reading
United Methodist Church Press

Publisher's Weekly
In her first book, Smith, an alumna of the Yaddo and MacDowell writers' colonies, confidently weaves together aspects of a traditional coming-of-age memoir with a story of unimaginable loss. In lucid, controlled prose, she meticulously reconstructs her family's journey through the three years following her 18-year-old brother Roy's death in a car accident, just weeks before he was to start college, in 1984. Despite their overwhelming grief, Smith's devout Catholic parents' faith does not waver, but the 15-year-old Smith grapples with her beliefs. "I thought perhaps it was my fault that Roy had left us," she writes. "I thought I was being punished for some unknown sin." A student at a Rochester, N.Y., Catholic high school, Smith can't express her doubts, nor can she reveal her romantic feelings for one of her schoolmates, a less sheltered girl who introduces her to Colette and van Gogh. And even though Smith becomes exceedingly thin, her mother and father fail to notice she's anorexic. Name All the Animals (the title refers to Adam naming the animals in the Garden of Eden) includes many vivid images, although some of the language can seem too pretty and composed. The book closes with the third anniversary of Roy's death. "If I lived past the summer of my eighteenth year," Smith resolves, "I would have to face that Roy died and that I the little sister, the tagalong... would surpass him." It's a brave ending to an impressive debut. (Feb. 10) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal
In this memoir, a top book for Scribner, Smith recalls grappling with her brother's death as a teenager. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
An impressive debut memoir of grief and growing up. In 1984, when the author was only 15, her 18-year-old brother Roy was burned to death in an automobile crash. Her struggle to come to terms with this loss and find her way again is recounted here with a clear eye and astonishing frankness. Smith's parents were staunch Catholics; not to believe in the existence of God, she writes, would have been like not believing in "oatmeal, or motorcars, or the laws of gravity." With her brother's death, Alison's faith suddenly vanished, to be replaced by study and reading. If only she could understand how space, time, light, and movement were linked in the fourth dimension, she believed, Roy would come back to her. Smith's parents, however, clung to their faith; her father still blessed her each morning with a holy relic to keep her safe. The author's observations of her parents' reaction to the loss of their only son are marked by a cool objectivity and filled with telling detail. Inexplicably, they seemed to be unaware that their grief-stricken remaining child was starving herself and wandering outside at all hours of the night. Smith's mother, it seems, was an expert at rewriting the past and pretending that unwanted events did not actually happen. At Sisters of Mercy High School, the nuns overlooked Alison's strange or out-of-line behaviors. When she fell in love with another girl and the two of them were discovered in bed together, only her companion's reputation suffered. The nuns and her classmates saw Smith as "the girl whose brother died," more to be pitied than censured. For months before the third anniversary of Roy's death, the tagalong little sister, now 18 and not wanting to surpass herbig brother, planned to reenact the accident, following him into death. Her attempt failed, her appetite for life returned, and Roy finally became a ghost figure for Alison, if not for her parents. Powerful, unsentimental, candid, and moving.


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