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Name Me Nobody by Lois-Ann Yamanaka

Name Me Nobody

by Lois-Ann Yamanaka

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“Where Von goes, Emi-Lou goes.” In Hilo, Hawaii, Von and Emi-Lou have long been best friends, each other’s protectors. But when both join the island women’s softball team, Emi-Lou notices Von’s increasing attachment to Babes, a teammate. Emi-Lou is desperate to keep things the same between her and Von and to keep Von “normal” but her efforts threaten their friendship.
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
This was the first novel with lesbian themes I ever read -- I think I was 10 or 11. I remember being a little surprised at first because I thought it was a novel about Hawaiians, but I was so sucked into the story that I got a lot out of it, not least of which was realizing a book could be both about Hawaiians and lesbians. One of my first lessons, in my white community, about non-white literature being multifaceted and the hegemony of whiteness as default. This is still a powerful lesson for young readers today.
  sparemethecensor | Dec 4, 2015 |
Careful words- throughout
Careful topics- gay, swearing, drugs, drinking. Needs to be older and age appropriate.
  alenazabawski | Sep 13, 2013 |
I didn't like this as much as Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers. I don't know if two books is enough to say there's a trend, but this is the second book where there are secondary characters who are queer (in the case of Name Me Nobody, quite a few of them), but while the main character gets called lesbian/dyke/etc. it turns out she isn't. And in this book, even though it's all about learning to accept her best friend is a lesbian, overall it kind of comes off as "whew, at least the protagonist isn't gay!"

I also wasn't thrilled with the weight-loss theme. I liked in Wild Meat that the main character just was fat and it wasn't about her losing weight. The weight issues in this book are all very realistic, but it made me sad that while her grandma said she would love her if she were a lesbian and gave this big speech about how Emi-lou should love Von for who she is, even in the end she was stil harping on Emi-lou's weight (and the fact that Emi-lou had starved herself and used diet pills to get thin was never really resolved).

Despite that, I did like the book quite a bit. ( )
  kyuuketsukirui | Aug 25, 2010 |
Personal Response:

Emi-Lou’s insistence that her best friend be ‘normal’ is perplexing given that she has seemingly accepted a male friend’s sexuality. But the love she shows for Von throughout makes her eventual acceptance more believable. The complications of friendship are very relatable.

Curricular or Programming Connections:

Would make excellent small group discussion, but too controversial for assigned class reading
  hsollom | Aug 9, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0786814667, Paperback)

Named after Emmylou Harris because her mother used to "do it" to the Profile album, 14-year-old Emi-Lou Kaya feels like a nobody in her Hawaiian town: "I'm not smart enough to be a nerd. I'm not stink enough to be a turd. I fall somewhere right below the band geeks and right above the zeroes." Abandoned by her mother at age three, Emi-Lou hasn't a clue as to who her father might be, and on top of all this, she is overweight. (The popular Japanese girls at school call her Emi-lump, Emi-oink, or Emi-fat.) Her only salvation is the strength of the hard-as-nails but loving grandmother who raised her, and the feisty spirit of her best friend Yvonne. It is Yvonne who renames the dynamic duo Von and Louie, and who puts Emi-Lou on a strict weight-loss regimen. ("Von always says she's the tough outward and I'm the tough inward.") But Emi-Lou starts to worry about losing her touchstone when Von begins spending a little too much time with Babes, an older girl from the softball team. Rumors abound that her soul sister is a "butchie," and when Emi-Lou suspects it's true, she becomes desperate to get Von back to "normal" and back to her role as best friend.

With dialogue that sparks with the rhythms of pidgin (Hawaiian Creole English), this compelling novel explores sexuality, racism, and the troubled waters of establishing one's own identity. Lois-Ann Yamanaka, author of the equally funny and insightful Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers, creates in Emi-Lou a character as complex and lovely as the Hawaiian landscape itself. (Ages 13 and older) --Brangien Davis

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:54 -0400)

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Emi-Lou struggles to come of age in her middle school years in Hawaii.

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