Names Will Never Hurt Me

Names Will Never Hurt Me

4.2 9
by Jaime Adoff

View All Available Formats & Editions

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,

See more details below


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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Adoff creates palpable tension as he explores each character's state of mind through the physical and emotional pain of being ignored, rejected, or terrorized. [T]his is a powerful, complex, skillfully written novel that even the most reluctant reader will find accessible." -Booklist
Children's Literature
This compelling novel told in prose-poetry form tackles the sensitive but timely subject of high school violence. The novel opens on the one-year anniversary of the murder of a student at Rockville High School. Four teens tell the story from their different perspectives: Ryan is the football star with his own dark secrets, including an abusive father; Floater acts as the behind-the-scenes informant; biracial Tisha feels she does not fit in; and, Kurt, the so-called "freek," is tormented at school and nearing the end of his ability to cope. A reporter from a local television station appears at the school trying to find out what went wrong the year before and whether another violent event could occur. The anger and frustration grow as Kurt continues to be a punching bag, and he vows to himself that he will not be a victim anymore. When Ryan is suspended from the football game on the day the scouts will be there because of an accusation of sexual misconduct with another student, the situation at school becomes explosive. A wrenching narrative with authentic voices, the book explores the roots of violence and everyone's need for acceptance. 2004, Dutton Books, Ages 12 up.
—Valerie O. Patterson
On the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of one of their classmates, four Rockville High students struggle with the pressures of school. Tisha is tirelessly teased for being biracial and feels as if she does not fit in. Ryan is a popular football star, but he falls from grace when he sexually assaults a girl. Kurt is labeled a "freak" and is pushed almost to his breaking point by the endless harassment, and overweight Floater escapes bullying only because he is Principal Roberts's snitch. The students' cruelty to one another is unchecked by many of the school's teachers and administrators, who are shady characters with their own agendas. The only adult figure who genuinely cares for the students is the guidance counselor. Rockville seems like a pressure cooker about to explode, and it almost does. The lives of Tisha, Ryan, Kurt, and Floater intersect just as things reach their boiling point, but surprisingly, they reach out to help one another despite Rockville's hostile atmosphere. Adoff, son of the late Virginia Hamilton, received much acclaim for his book of poetry, The Song Shoots Out of My Mouth (Dutton, 2002/VOYA April 2003). Teens will enjoy his first work of fiction for its grim but popular topics of school violence and bullying. Although the characters are interesting and the ending hopeful, there is one glaring oversight. A reporter and her cameraman spend the day at Rockville interviewing students without the accompaniment of a school official. Few principals would allow a reporter unrestricted access to students. But more important, although this story line was probably meant to portray how the media needlessly sensationalizes school violence, it ironically dramatizesa plot line that needed no additional fanfare. VOYA Codes: 2Q 4P S (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Dutton, 192p., Ages 15 to 18.
—Valerie Ott
Adoff's poetry has grown from the free-flowing rhythmic verse of his first collection of music poetry to a complex chorus of four voices telling the gritty back-story of high school life. Written as a novel in verse, the tale gets inside the heads of the star jock, the bullied outcast, the mixed-race girl who doesn't fit in, and the principal's self-important snitch. However, Adoff shuns standard stereotypes by creating multi-dimensional adolescents whose public personas mask their insecurities, anxieties, and longing for acceptance. The novel is divided into chapters, each panning the scene, showing the story from different angles. The setting is a typical high school during an atypical event—the first anniversary of the shooting death of a student. Periodically interrupting the plot, a hungry news reporter asks leading questions to random students hoping for an exclusive scoop. But she never gets the answers she expects. The events in each of the main characters' lives overlap until they are all brought together in a climax with an unexpected twist. Adoff addresses issues of social exclusion, sex and violence honestly and in the authentic voices of his high school students. He reminds his readers that, in fact, names always hurt, and being labeled in adolescence can lead to self-loathing and unforeseen consequences reaching well beyond the school walls. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2004, Penguin Putnam, Dutton, 187p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Michele Winship
Almost a year ago, a student was violently murdered on Rockville High grounds. With suspense hanging in the air, four students battle their way through high school. Kurt tries his best to get through a day of school without turning into a human punching bag, or worse, having to swallow someone else's spit at the bottom of the drinking fountain. Tisha, who deals with bullies herself, wants people to accept her for who she really is, but who is that really? Floater is transformed (by the principal) from being picked on into something even worse: a power-hungry kid who looks to rule the school. Ryan, the star quarterback, is the king of the school. When the four of them collide, Ryan's dark secret comes out of hiding. Jaime Adoff brings to life a brutal story of the realities of high school via four intriguing main characters who cement the reader to the story. Adoff does an excellent job of describing events in a way that ensures the reader will enjoy it. 2004, Dutton Children's Books, 186 pp., Ages young adult.
—Barbara Wilson
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-There is an unsettling atmosphere at this Anytown, USA suburban high school-it is the one-year anniversary of a shooting death. The TV news crew is on hand to interview students, and the principal is on edge. The story is told through the eyes of four teenagers: Ryan, the football player who thinks he's a god; Kurt, the outcast oddball who regularly gets beaten but never fights back; Floater, the snitch filled with power lust; and Tisha, a lonely biracial girl who quietly watches all. Tension builds as the day progresses, as events unfold and worlds collide. As Ryan's perfect world begins to fall to pieces, Kurt's anger builds, Floater's dreams of fame go spinning out of control, and Tisha's frustration increases, it soon becomes apparent that something is going to happen, but what, and to whom? Writing in a free-verse, almost-poetic style, Adoff pulls off a young adult page-turner with literary ease. While readers may occasionally feel as though they've stepped into Columbine High School, rendering the purpose of the book clear, this does not hinder the novel's flow as the author shows who the real monsters are in this fictional world.-Angela J. Reynolds, Washington County Cooperative Library Services, Hillsboro, OR Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
On the first year anniversary of a shooting death at Rockville High, both the administration and the students are finding the day challenging. Except for the presence of a television crew, things-especially the bullying-are mostly normal for four students, the alternating narrators of events. Marvin, a.k.a. Floater, is the inside snitch, Kurt, a.k.a., Dirt is the consummate victim, Tisha is the half-white, half-black new girl looking for her place, and Ryan is the star quarterback. Each speak in realistic terms (including some cursing) about their day, including their own musings in such distinctive voices that identification by name gradually becomes unnecessary. Sometimes the ramblings are intense with cadence and delivery so clear that readers will be rapping along. At other times, the pain and hurt take poetic form on the page, slowing the eye. Each student's character is challenged in the end, when the tensions and inevitable consequences erupt. Adoff's keen ear overcomes an improbable plot in this outstanding first novel. (Fiction. YA)

Read More

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.50(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >