Tell It to Naomi

Tell It to Naomi

3.0 1
by Daniel Ehrenhaft

View All Available Formats & Editions

Dave Rosen has a secret. “Naomi,” the wise, witty, always-on-target, female writer behind his high school’s hit advice column, is, well, him. A native New Yorker who likes secondhand CD shops, The Simpsons, and meatball heroes.

A kid like him doesn’t have all the answers. He doesn’t even have most of the answers. Dave


Dave Rosen has a secret. “Naomi,” the wise, witty, always-on-target, female writer behind his high school’s hit advice column, is, well, him. A native New Yorker who likes secondhand CD shops, The Simpsons, and meatball heroes.

A kid like him doesn’t have all the answers. He doesn’t even have most of the answers. Dave only got himself dragged into this fiasco to help out his older sister, the real Naomi—and because he let himself be convinced that it might, in some lunatic way, enable him to meet his dream girl, the senior who gets his weak little sophomore heart racing: Celeste Fanucci. If he could get Celeste to write in and open up her soul to “Naomi,” he could use this secret knowledge to transform himself.

He could bridge the unbridgeable chasm between sophomore boys and senior girls. It’s a grand, grand scheme. And it’s about to go haywire.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Full of pep and laugh-aloud humor, this New York City-based novel relates the travails of narrator Dave Rosen, member of the "species [of]... puny, skinny, and awkward" sophomore boys at Roosevelt High. At first, Dave is eager to pose as his big sister, Naomi, an unemployed journalist who's been asked to pen an advice column for the school newspaper. He's well prepared to deal with the woes of his mostly female readers, since he always has been surrounded by women-his single mother and aunt as well as Naomi.("My mom and Aunt Ruth inhabit a bizarre parallel universe where a woman can be both celibate Jewish ogre and funky, aging hippie-and there is no contradiction," he says with typical acerbity.) However, Dave soon finds out that leading a secret life as a wise and witty columnist isn't all that it's cracked up to be. For one thing, he has trouble distinguishing the phony letters he receives from the sincere ones. Also, by keeping his identity a secret, he misses his chance to impress the "beautiful" and "mysterious" new senior, Celeste. By the time Dave realizes that honesty really is the best policy, he owes apologies to a long list of people. Once again, Ehrenhaft (as Daniel Parker, author of the first three Wessex Papers novels) showcases snappy dialogue and an impeccable sense of timing. Readers will gleefully follow Dave into and out of his amusingly complicated web of deceit. Ages 12-up. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Dave Rosen falls for Celeste Fanucci on his second day of high school. He doubts anything will come of it, since he is a sophomore and she is a senior. Dave lives in a fourth floor walk-up on the Lower East Side with his sister, Naomi, and his mom and aunt, who both work. Naomi recently graduated in journalism and is looking for work. Dave feels he has no one to confide in about Celeste since his grade school friend, "Cheese," now goes to private school and ignores him. Dave becomes the advice columnist for the school newspaper through Naomi's intervention with the newspaper's teacher-advisor who is her boyfriend. Dave hopes to use the column to influence Celeste. The column is a huge success. Since Dave uses Naomi's name for the column the teacher-advisor believes Naomi is writing the column. When the advisor arranges a meeting of fans for "Naomi" to be revealed, Dave is beside himself. This fun story of an angst-ridden fourteen year old speaks to teens where they live. 2004, Delacorte Press/Random House Children's Books, Ages 12 up.
—Carlee Hallman
This light tale will entertain all those YAs who love to gossip and use the computer to communicate with other teenagers hiding behind false identities. Naomi is Dave's older sister, a college graduate who is depressed and back home, discouraged in her search for a job in journalism. Dave is struggling socially in high school, yearning for beautiful girls who ignore him. Naomi is friends with one of the teachers at the school, who proposes a "Dear Naomi" column for the high school; and after a convoluted maze of deception, Dave actually writes the answers to the letters, pretending to be Naomi. Since he has grown up with women—raised by his mother, his aunt, and his older sister—he is accustomed to talking about feelings and it's easy for him to answer the e-mail letters that come in for the column. Of course, each writer disguises his or her identity with a false name, and follow-up correspondence between Dave and each writer helps Dave to see the letter writers as individuals, but he doesn't actually know their identities and of course they think he is Naomi. There is a final reckoning, of course, and all is revealed, with some real surprises. This is fun entertainment. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2004, Random House, Delacorte, 200p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Claire Rosser
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-According to friends and family, Dave Rosen is in touch with his feminine side and doesn't talk like a "normal" guy; in short, he is sensitive. A sophomore, he is trying to navigate through high school, friendships, and the typical angst associated with adolescence. He finds himself infatuated with a new student, who is a senior, and therefore untouchable. To try and get close to Celeste, who authored an advice column for the newspaper at her former school, Dave comes up with the idea of writing one of his own. His sister, a recent college grad and unemployed journalist, pitches the idea to Joel, the newspaper's teacher advisor, who also happens to be her ex-boyfriend. He loves the sample she sends him, but refuses to believe that Dave wrote it, since it sounds like a feminine voice, and assumes that Naomi is the author. The siblings agree to keep the real author a secret and the column becomes an instant success. In a scene reminiscent of one in Todd Strasser's The Wave (Turtleback, 1981), Dave finally tells the truth during a speech at school; faculty members are angry about the lie and his classmates feel betrayed. The plot is weak and convoluted; the characters are believable but not endearing. Students who want a male perspective on high school would be better served by Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl (Knopf, 2000) or by one of Chris Crutcher's books.-Angela M. Boccuzzi, Merton Williams' Middle School, Hilton, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Sophomore scrub Dave Rosen falls head over heels for bohemian senior Celeste Fanucci at first sight. Decked out in long, flowery dresses with Birkenstocks on her feet, Dave immediately knows Celeste is "the one," and yearns for a way into her heart. Enter the cunning brain of his 20-something sister, Naomi, a struggling journalist hunting for both a job and infamy to go with it. By convincing Dave to tack her own name to his advice column in the school newspaper, she unknowingly helps him devise a scheme to worm his way into Celeste's heart. Of course, not everything goes as planned, and Dave eventually finds he must answer both to the school faculty and the student body that he advises. Articulate, interesting, yet somewhat stilted, Ehrenhaft's abundant exposition, high number of central characters, and lilting plot may try the patience of less persistent readers. However, hangers-on will definitely relish his easy style, well-conceived characterizations, and Dave's humorous insight and plight as he balances changing friendships, first love, and his notorious, new-found alter-ego. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.56(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The whole sordid fiasco began when I saw Celeste Fanucci for the first time--in the hall at Roosevelt High, the second day of school my sophomore year.

I recognized her right away. I'd heard people whispering about her the day before, so I knew what to look for. Not that I had any hope of talking to her, of course. No, that would have required major outside help: a sudden celebrity appearance, skeletons rising from their graves, that sort of thing. Only then could I have come up with a good opening line--like, "Hey, it's the guy from that movie!" or, "Watch out: the undead!"

Celeste Fanucci was beautiful. She was mysterious: a new senior, a transfer. She wore a flowery dress and Birkenstocks. Her blond hair tumbled in curly waves down her back.

She had a nose ring. She was cool. She was bohemian. She was a woman.

I was a boy.

I was nothing.

You can't exaggerate the chasm that exists between sophomore boys and senior girls. You really can't. It's unbridgeable. Sophomore boys and senior girls aren't even members of the same species. Our species is puny, skinny, and awkward. It's basically designed to be avoided or ignored. Theirs is ideal. Theirs appears in commercials. As such, they can do whatever they want. The future stretches at their feet like a red carpet, plush and well vacuumed, leading them straight into a glamorous VIP event--and, farther down the line, into a backstage area patrolled by beefy security guards whose sole job is to keep us sophomore boys away from it.

Okay, I know. Not every senior girl is an unattainable beauty--especially not at Roosevelt High. Imean, if you went to my school, you'd probably say: What about Olga Romanoff, the president of the literary club? She's a senior, right? Doesn't she remind you of those Russian dolls, the squat little wooden ones that come packed one inside the other?

And on the flip side, you might say that not all sophomore boys are little wieners, either. There are guys like Jed Beck: swarthy, dark--the J. Crew-model type. Last year he grew a beard just to show off. He was barely fourteen. The hair came in pretty full, too. Rumor has it that he even bridged the unbridgeable chasm. (With whom, I don't know. Olga Romanoff, I hope.)

But trust me, by the age of twenty-seven Jed Beck will be fat, bald, and miserable--a divorced gas station attendant--whereas I will be the next Jimi Hendrix. Well, except that I won't be black. But I will be cool. And I will drive women crazy. I have Faith in this. I really do, as surely as rabbis and priests have Faith in the God they never see in person. I must have Faith. Without it I would lose Hope. And that would just be too depressing to think about.

Before I go any further, there's something you should know about me: certain people rag on the way I talk.

According to the Jed Becks of the world, I don't talk the way most "normal" guys do. Whatever. Maybe it's true, but it's not my fault. I've never lived with a guy. I've always lived in a Lower East Side apartment full of insane females--Naomi, my mom, and my mom's twin sister, Ruth. My dad died when I was three. He was a schmuck. He split right after I was born, gallivanting across the country and drinking Jack Daniel's until his liver exploded. In the words of "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" by the Temptations: When he died, all he left us was alone.

In case you were wondering how I know the lyrics to a Temptations song that came out almost twenty years before I was born, I have a good excuse: my mom and Aunt Ruth inhabit a bizarre parallel universe where a woman can be both celibate Jewish ogre and funky, aging hippie--and there is no contradiction. This duality somehow makes sense.

As far as I know, no such universe exists outside the confines of 433 East Ninth Street, apartment 4R. I pray it doesn't, anyway. I pray for the rest of humanity's sake.

But back to the second day of school.

Celeste Fanucci must have caught me staring. She flashed me a quick smile and waved.

I bolted.

In my defense, I was already a little late for Algebra II. (Mr. Cooper likes to "make examples of the tardy.") But to tell you the truth, I was heartbroken. She'd just quashed any far-fetched hope I might have had about her, about us. Because with that one breezy gesture, she'd said, "You can talk to me--in a little-brotherly way, of course--and I might take you under my wing for five minutes and maybe muss your hair once or twice, like a dog. But don't even think about anything else."

I shouldn't have stared at her for so long, I guess. I should have just gone up and said hi.

One more thing you should know about me, and this is very important: my family has always had a problem with secrets.

By problem I mean that our secrets invariably go public--in large part because Naomi always blabs--and when they do, they never fail to disgrace us.

I cite my grandpa Meyer's secret as an example.

Grandpa Meyer was Mom and Aunt Ruth's father. For as long as I knew him, he lived in a retirement home in Brooklyn. He wore a greasy silver toupee. He talked out of the left side of his mouth, like a gangster. He sunned himself whenever possible, too, so his skin had the look and feel of an old baseball mitt.

People say that he was a lot like me.

I don't really see how. I hate the sun. I can go whole summers without swimming or taking off my shirt once, and I'll still be perfectly happy. My skin is superpale. My hair is brown. (Plus it's real.) And I talk fairly normally, if not like other guys. To look at Grandpa Meyer and me--if he were still alive, that is--you probably, hopefully, wouldn't even think that we were part of the same family.

The only real similarity I can think of is that he was one of two children, and his older sister was also named Naomi.

In my experience, people tend to see the smaller picture when it comes to relatives. They'll say that one relative is like the other for a few stupid reasons while ignoring all the many reasons they're not alike. People are funny that way.

Anyway, Grandpa Meyer was famous for two things: sneezing and discussing his memoirs. Often they went hand in hand. He would be sitting on the back patio at the retirement home sunning himself and talking out of the side of his mouth. Suddenly he would freeze up. He would stare at a fixed point in space. Then his eyes would narrow . . . and that's when the leathery nose would explode with the force of cannon fire: Ah-choo! Ah-choo! Ah-choo!--always three violent bursts in rapid succession, usually followed by several more.

"Bless you!" one of us would shout.

Grandpa Meyer sneered at this.

"Bless you?" he scoffed. "You act as if I did something wrong. Sneezing is a thing of majesty. A sneeze never stands alone. It comes in waves, in chains . . . like the tide, or the Himalayas. I'm going to address this very misconception about sneezing in my memoirs. Then you'll see. You'll all see the truth."

He said this last part with great foreboding.

Meet the Author

Daniel Ehrenhaft has written numerous novels, often under the name Daniel Parker, and is the recipient of the 2003 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Young Adult Novel for The Wessex Papers, Volumes 1 through 3. He lives with his wife, Jessica, in New York City, and would never, ever give her advice unless she wanted him to.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Tell It to Naomi 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's a witty book about a boy who poses as his sister and writes an advice column for his school newspaper. following mayhem and problems.