Customer Reviews for

We Need New Names

Average Rating 3.5
( 11 )
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  • Posted July 26, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Sheila Trask for Readers' Favorite A sad and beauti

    Reviewed by Sheila Trask for Readers' Favorite

    A sad and beautiful coming-of-age story of a child and her country, NoViolet Bulawayo’s novel, We Need New Names, takes us to Zimbabwe during the Mugabe era. Here, 10-year-old Darling copes with extreme poverty, hunger, and near-homelessness in her ironically-named shantytown, Paradise. We join the smart, observant Darling and her roving band of friends as they hunt for the best places to steal guavas and play frequent games of “find bin Laden.” Bulawayo’s knowledgeable and empathetic descriptions allow us to feel their hunger but also their friendships. Most of all, we see them becoming adults before their time, as in a wrenching scene where the friends try to figure out how to “get the baby out” of 11-year-old Chipo’s stomach.
     
    Bulawayo looks unflinchingly at harsh economic, racial, family, and personal experiences in Zimbabwe, through Darling’s perceptive eyes. Later in the novel —- which reads more like a series of linked vignettes than an action-filled story -— Darling travels to America to escape the dire situation at home. However, Detroit, Michigan is hardly the answer to all of her problems. In fact, her new home brings new complications, which Bulawayo covers in chapters focused on technology, music, capitalism, violence, and pornography. These later sections feel a little forced, as though the author had a predetermined list of issues to address, though her observations are spot on. A girl who never had enough to eat is appropriately alarmed by an American culture that celebrates a combination of overeating and extreme dieting, for instance.

    Lyrical at times, no reader will forget Darling’s first experience of the Michigan snow that came silently to swallow everything up with its whiteness. We Need New Names is not a speedy read. Darling takes her time expressing herself, and there is no anticipation of crisis to create momentum. Readers will, however, appreciate Bulawayo’s unique voice, her cross-cultural comparisons, and the compassion with which she portrays one girl’s international journey toward womanhood.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 18, 2013

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    'We Need New Names' is a heartfelt and eye-opening literary fict

    'We Need New Names' is a heartfelt and eye-opening literary fiction novel that tells the moving story of Darling, a young girl who finds her way out of her home village in Zimbabwe to the United States. We see her struggles and watch her overcome obstacles that we couldn't even imagine. She finally makes it to the United States to live with her aunt, only to find that the land of freedom and possibilities is incredibly limited to her because of her legal status as an immigrant.

    This story was masterfully told with such emotion and insight that it felt like I was right alongside Darling during her life in Zimbabwe throughout her journey to America and beyond. Darling is a fantastic and unusual main character for the novel - she's just a young girl who migrates to America from Africa. However, her preconceptions, hopes, determination, and beliefs are palpable to the reader to the point where my heart broke for her at times, while at others I was cheering her on. The writing was conversational being from Darling's point of view, but it also was insightful and intelligent. The pace was steady and flowed seamlessly, which made this a completely fascinating novel. There's so much more to the plot that Darling's life and journey to the United States - the reader realizes things they had never thought about before; things that may have never crossed their minds otherwise. It brings a wonderful sense of understanding and eye-opening realizations to the reader throughout the entire book. Highly recommended for fans of contemporary fiction and literary fiction!

    Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2013

    I thought this book was quite good. NoViolet Bulawayo has a uniq

    I thought this book was quite good. NoViolet Bulawayo has a unique writing style that can really draw a reader in. Bulawayo has is skills at twisting past, and present, in colorful storytelling skills really does make her an author to keep one's eye on. The reason why I do not give it 5 stars is because there was some holes in the later chapters for me, nothing significant just felt a little rushed. However, I enjoyed the halt in the ending and look forward to reading more by Bulawayo. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo is a collection of short

    We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo is a collection of short stories or essays in sequential order that make up a novel. The stories are gritty and honest, about an African girl named Darling, who is struggling with her culture and ready to go to America.

    I loved this novel. It kind of reminded me of my favorite collection of short stories, Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan, which contains stories of struggling African children in some questionable situations.  

    Plus, who can resist a book by an author whose name is NoViolet???  

    Read anything gritty lately?  

    Thanks for reading,

    Rebecca @ Love at First Book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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