Author: Susan Koefod
Thanks to NetGalley and Curiosity Quills Press for letting me receive a digital copy of this book.
16-year-old Mary-Louise comes home from swimming lessons one day to find she is absent from family photographs, her bedroom has turned into a linen closet, and all of her possessions have disappeared. More troubling, her family goes on as if she never existed. The only person in town who can actually see her is a boy she calls Fish, a YMCA swimming instructor, but Fish is hiding from a troubled past and the person he sees is entirely different from who she thought she was.
The girl he sees is entirely different from the insecure, unattractive girl Mary-Louise thinks of herself. The teens discover the photo of a spirited, beautiful young woman photographed many years before--Pearl--who exactly resembles the girl Fish sees. The truth about Pearl's identity is the key to discovering why Mary-Louise has disappeared and why Fish left home, but his fears of being discovered are preventing him from helping Mary-Louise, after all, no one can see or hear her.
This coming-of-age story explores the important and often fragile connection between the roles we play in others' lives--as siblings, children, friends, and partners--and the unique identity we must find in ourselves.
Unfortunately, there isn't a lot that I can say about this book. And the few things I can say aren't that nice, to be honest. The writing was great. That's what I noticed right from the beginning, but other than that, the story didn't capture my fascination like I hoped it would. It was rather confusing and I seriously disliked Mary-Louise. To me, she appeared kind of disabled, like she had some kind of illness - a mental illness. The way she admitted she always repeated her name to anybody who would listen. How does that make any sense? Somehow, she was afraid to lose her identity and then it just happened. I found that really weird. Especially the curtain scene. I didn't get that at all. At first, I thought the book had some kind of mistery touch, some thriller-like things in it. But other than getting tangled in a curtain, there was nothing else that screamed boo! to me.
Then there's Fish, the only boy who can see Mary-Louise, who wants to help her finding her identity, making other people see her. By the end, when everything gets revealed, I was so confused who the hell that boy was or wasn't. You'll know what I mean. And this review might confuse you, but that's because of the book, believe me. You can quit wanting the story to have some logical sense. It doesn't apply.
At some point, Mary-Louise isn't Mary-Louise anymore. She'll talk about that girl as if she's some stranger, some other girl she knows quite well, but not enought to be her. She'll think of herself as someone else. The fact that Fish tells her she looks different from what she thinks she does, isn't any help either. So she gets caught up in that story - being someone else, trying to find out more why she changed her personality. Unfortunately, I didn't understand very much.
Anyway... I think Mary-Louise and Fish are supposed to be a romantic couple or something. But you won't get the impression. They aren't even exactly friends to me. I hoped for some scenes that might lead to something more between them, but my wishes weren't meant to be heard. Which is why the ending confused me even more. I lost count how many times I used the word confused now and how many times I was surprised with this book, didn't understand the thoughts behind it.
So, as always, I'm not saying Naming the Stars is a bad book. It just wasn't my kind of book. I'm glad it wasn't a six-hundred pages novel or I might have quit reading. I was still able to finish it and even ended up liking some conversations, some ideas.