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Names Will Never Hurt Me by Jaime Adoff

Names Will Never Hurt Me

by Jaime Adoff

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This novel takes place during one day, the one year anniversary of a school shooting that left one student dead. Told through the perspectives of four students, in a semi-journal entry format, the reader sees how the shooting and its anniversary affected the town and how such an event could happen. Three of the students are part of the outcasts. Kurt, known at school as "freek" is made fun of every day, and uses his music to retreat. Tisha, is put down by both the black and white girls because she does not fully belong to either group. Floater, a self chosen name, was picked by the principal to be his eyes and ears. Even though he is still not accepted, he is mostly left alone, because he holds a power over the other students. The fourth perspective is Ryan, a senior football player and sometimes bully.I loved this book, and think it is one that every high school student should read. Along with the perspectives of those being hurt, we see what leads to the hurtful actions of others and how far those effects reach. This novel doesn't sugar coat how teens feel about and react to teasing and abuse, which I think is the most important aspect. The entries all could have been written by high school students. They express the wanting to fit in, fear of failure, and general confusion that is characteristic of being a teenager. Also, they show how teenagers can have those "moments of clarity" when the stakes are high enough, and do the right thing despite the potential social consequences. This is a theme I find refreshing in young adult literature today, giving teens credit for what they can do. The setting of the book is nondescript enough that it could be in any suburb, and the lessons apply to teens at any type of school. The characters are each someone that you probably pass every day without realizing it (except for Ryan). By the end, I either loved or loathed each character, but I did not feel apathetic towards any of them, and I wanted each one to get what they deserved out of life.READ MORE REVIEWS AT http://sschpagepals.blogspot.com
  tichwi | Sep 10, 2010 |
Names Will Never Hurt Me is told in a loose prose form, which intensifies the teen angst felt throughout. It is a chilling and hopefully exaggerated look at what high school life is like today. This is a good book for teens who don’t feel like they fit in…which, according to Adoff, is all of them. ( )
  mitchsar | Jun 17, 2009 |
Richie's Picks: NAMES WILL NEVER HURT ME by Jaime Adoff, Dutton, April 2004, ISBN 0-525-47175-8

"Their words are like a hand smacking me in the face. Where's Mr. Shoemaker? Couldn't he be on time for algebra just once?"

"I'm a loser baby so why don't you kill me?" --Beck

There's an old Parker Brothers board game from my '60s childhood called Booby Trap. All these different colored pieces are pressed together inside a spring-loaded framework and the idea is to carefully remove a piece without the spring sending all of the other pieces flying.

NAMES WILL NEVER HURT ME takes place on the first anniversary of a drug-related shooting at Rockville High and the school's suburban campus feels like one big Booby Trap game with the spring getting tighter and tighter. Because of the anniversary, the 7 Alive TV news team is right there in the thick of it to chronicle the day's events.

"I'm a genius, the one they call Floater. That's because I move in and out of my own ocean. Waves I've created. I'm like the moon; I've got my own gravitational force, and there's not shit anyone can do about it."

"Granny calls me a super combo. I don't know, I feel more like an unhappy meal. I just don't fit in; I just don't fit. Not in this school. It's mostly white, but all the black kids stick together. Both sides want me to choose, but both sides don't really want me."

"I'm the best. First, in everything. That's the way it is, the way it will always be.
"On my mind, Susie Sunshine, as Mrs. Fields calls the roll:
" 'Ryan Duncan?'
" 'Here.' I say in my laid-back Varsity Voice. Third-row cool--me and Zac and Stew. We are the elite. We're going to Three-peat.
"The BEARS. We are the champions!
" 'Kurt Reynolds.' He's one of them. I pretend not to notice him. Why should I? I don't even look back. They shouldn't be in class.
"Don't even know their names. Don't care. They're not really there.
"This is my school. My class. My town. Don't want 'them' around. They just bring us all down. Make us look bad. That's what the Colonel says, but it's true. They make us look, at them, on purpose.
Now I'm all mad. They're killin' my Susie Sunshine buzz."

"Damn, I suck--always looking for someone to save me. I don't turn around, I'm pretending I'm writing something important. I wish I had my greatest hits notebook. Left it in my backpack in my locker. Mr. Tanner says it is good to write stuff down. Says it's a release. I guess it helps sometimes, but not now.
"No, now is shit. I can't keep up with my pile; I can't keep up. As much as I try, more gets dumped on top of me. Bag after bag of trash poured over my head. How much garbage can a person live in? Does Mr. T really expect me to live my life this way? Forever? Always being dumped on? No, he can't expect me to keep taking this, can he? These morons have no idea. Nobody does, not even Mr. T. They have no idea who I really am, what I'm capable of. Yeah, I'll sit and take it, but my pile is almost to the top now. There's no more room. Do they know what that means? I don't think so. No one does, not even Mr. T. They don't know that I have the power right here, right here in my hands. Well, maybe it's time for me to show my power. Maybe I should say something back, but when I talk, when I finally say something, it won't be with words...These fools will hear me alright; everyone will hear me. Then they'll wonder why they treated me this way. They'll wish they had just tried to talk to me, talk to me like I was a person--treated me like a real person, not just a punching bag, not just a big garbage can to throw shit into, to piss on. They'll wish they could take it all back, but they won't be able to. It'll be too late. Yeah, I've got something to say..You wanna hear it?"

Jaime Adoff is a poet and a musician, and it shows. In this, his first YA novel, his words are light on their feet. Adoff deftly captures the turmoil within each of his four primary characters. His supporting cast is similarly well-developed, particularly Tisha's friend and protector, Tiny. This is a story of insiders and outsiders, of predators and victims. As the bell rings for each class period, Mark, Tisha, Ryan, and Kurt find themselves being pressed tighter and tighter. The author knows just when to punctuate the building tension with humor and absurdity, primarily in the form of the on-the-scene female TV reporter who has to deal with lust, language and a skinny kid who hates the cafeteria food.

"Now, for this important commercial message

"Voice of commercial announcer: Are your kids just too much for you? Are they constantly getting into trouble around the house? Always playing their music too loud? Is the unending disrespect and teenage rebellion wearing you down? Then it's time to get NumbedOut. NumbedOut is a safe and effective way of completely tuning out your children. Just take two tablets fifteen minutes before they come home from school and you're on your way to a peaceful and stress-free evening."

NAMES WILL NEVER HURT ME is an exceptional piece of writing that deals with issues that are so important to me. Through his rhythmic delivery and artfully chosen language, Jaime Adoff has crafted an extremely entertaining tale that delivers a distinct call for tolerance and respect.

Support National No Name-Calling Week.

Richie Partington
BudNotBuddy@aol.com ( )
  richiespicks | May 24, 2009 |
Not the greatest book, but still good enough. Best for 8th grade and aboe I think. Four people in high school: "Kurt, the freek hiding inside himself to escape the bullies; Tisha, the white girl with the tan that never fades, who desn't feel she fits in with anyone; Ryan, the all-American football jock, who rules the hallways as he loses control of his life; and Floater, the eyes and ears of th eprincipal, who uses his connections to gain dangerous power." ( )
  SandyStiles | Apr 3, 2009 |
Very good story for high school students about how things aren't always the way they seem...maybe the perfect student doesn't really have such a perfect life. Quick read. ( )
  MrsHillReads | Jan 3, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142404578, Paperback)

During one day at school, the paths of four teens will cross in ways they never imagined. There's Kurt, the "freek" who tries desperately to escape bullying; Tisha, who doesn't feel she fits in with anyone; Ryan, the football jock who rules the hallways while losing control of his life; and Floater, who uses his connections to gain dangerous power. On this day, teasing, racism, loneliness, and secrets bring each of them to the breaking point. Now they must help each other prevent a tragedy. The voices of these four teens weave together in prose-poetry to create a powerful read.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:30 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Several high school students relate their feelings about school, themselves, and events as they unfold on the fateful one-year anniversary of the killing of a fellow student.

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