What's in a Name

What's in a Name

4.6 5
by Ellen Wittlinger, John Mathias

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What's really going on here?

There's something brewing in the town of Scrub Harbor and it's not just about changing the name from Scrub Harbor to Folly Bay. O'Neill has a secret. Adam is starting over. Christine has a crush. Gretchen has a cause. You'll get an earful getting to know them!


What's really going on here?

There's something brewing in the town of Scrub Harbor and it's not just about changing the name from Scrub Harbor to Folly Bay. O'Neill has a secret. Adam is starting over. Christine has a crush. Gretchen has a cause. You'll get an earful getting to know them!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wittlinger (Hard Love) convincingly creates 10 distinct teen voices, each of which takes a turn narrating a chapter. While the chapters offer readers only a glimpse of each character, several of them feature in the other teens' accounts, and bittersweet, even piercing musings run through many of the narratives ("It's as if my emotions are twice the size of normal people's," says one character, pained by unrequited love. "I'm the Arnold Schwarzenegger of sensitivity"). The vignettes rally around a rather tenuous theme--everyone in Scrub Harbor is caught up in a war over the town's name. The wealthy population, the "Follys," wants to change it to the more elegant Folly Bay, hoping to add value to their real estate; the poorer families, the "Scrubs," want to maintain their traditions. Yet the teens' cogent reflections fortify the volume. They reveal what runs deeper than their "Folly" or "Scrub" moniker. The dialogue can feel like forced teen-speak in spots ("You talk like a frigging moron. Get a life, why don'tcha," the football star yells at his younger brother), but readers will likely respond to the realism of both the characters and their dilemmas. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
What is in a name? Everything. Many a novelist, including me, has a tale to tell of a story woefully stuck until a miraculous finding of the right name makes a balky character leap to life. Societies around the world treat names seriously, even reverently. At the same time, as Shakespeare reminds us, what's in a name? Nothing. Change the label—the essence remains. A possible name change is at the heart of Wittlinger's plot: what if a forward-thinking mom hatched a plan to christen a small town with a trendy new name, and the citizens had to vote on whether they wanted to change or keep the comfortable, old name? The issue of whether Scrub Harbor needs a "classier" name illuminates class distinctions at Scrub Harbor High. Ten students—each with his or her own chapter—offer their opinions of the name change along with glimpses into their routines, insecurities, and concerns. In the ten interlocking stories, Wittlinger nudges some air into the myths and stereotypes of what it's like to be, for example, a jock, a foreign exchange student, an inner-city bussed-in honor student, a popular organizer, a gay young man. Deep-down, each character is filled with anxieties about identity but also with surprising resources. Both Ricardo, from Brazil, and Adam, the new kid, struggle with what it's like to be "cool" in one setting, only to move to a new place and lose all that coolness. "I guess the big surprise," Adam says, "is how that stuff doesn't stick to you once you leave a place." Other surprises abound. Quincy, the jock with the somewhat unwelcome new identity of "the football player with the in-your-face gay brother," is insightful, thoughtful about the discomfort he'sgoing through. O'Neill, his brother, is far happier and much more relaxed once he comes out. (Granted, he goes to a school with a Gay/Straight Alliance led by a beloved English teacher, the school's "poster boy for liberal chic.") Each story illustrates, in one way or another, the comment that ends the novel. "You think you know someone, but then they surprise you." 2000, Simon & Schuster, $16.00. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Jane Kurtz — The Five Owls, September/October 2000 (Vol. 15 No. 1)
To quote KLIATT's May 2000 review of the hardcover edition: As the title suggests, identity issues, as well as the pros and cons of change, are the themes of this cleverly conceived and well-written novel by the author of the acclaimed Hard Love. Some of the residents of the town of Scrub Harbor want to change its name to the ritzier-sounding Folly Bay, and the proposal stirs up considerable controversy, dividing the townspeople along class and money lines. Against this background are the intertwined stories of ten high school students who are also considering what it means to be labeled or to label yourself, trying to understand who they really are and find the courage to make changes. In each chapter, a different teenager tells his or her tale. There is Georgie, from the poor side of town, who must decide whether or not to live with her father in California; O'Neill, who decides to come out publicly as gay, and his football-playing brother Quincy, who must deal with what it mean to him to have a gay brother;...Nadia, a Russian immigrant struggling to find her place; Nelson, a well-off African American honors student who starts to think about his racial identity when he spends time with ambitious, streetwise Shaquanda...There's something here for almost every reader to relate to, in other words, and the characters' plights and their interactions are varied and engaging. Highly recommended. Category: Paperback Fiction. KLIATT Codes: JSA*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2000, Simon & Schuster, Aladdin., , Ages 13 to adult. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick; KLIATT

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Ellen Wittlinger is the critically acclaimed author of the teen novels Parrotfish, Blind Faith, Sandpiper, Heart on My Sleeve, Zigzag, and Hard Love (an American Library Association Michael L. Printz Honor Book and a Lambda Literary Award winner), and its sequel Love & Lies: Marisol’s Story. She has a bachelor’s degree from Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, and an MFA from the University of Iowa. A former children’s librarian, she lives with her husband in Haydenville, Massachusetts.

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What's in a Name 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is about ten kids in high school who are all intertwined in some way. It takes place in the relatively small town Scrub Harbor. It demonstrates all of the different types of journeys people can have in high school. It shows how differently people are perceived by their peers, than by their friends. I liked this book because of the set up; it took you through the journey of the same high school, but each chapter was the perspective of somebody else. Some themes of this book were judgment, courage and determination. I think that a teenager should read this book so that they can see not everyone is who you think they are. It showed me to open my eyes to people that i may think are a certain stereotype, when in actuality they could be someone entirely different. The main message is to give people a chance.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ellen Wittlinger had the great idea of writing the book with each chapter being a different teen talking about their life. It was a pretty boring book, I have to say. There were some really weird issues in it too
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this book there are many twists and turns. Each chapter of the story is told in a different characters point of view. That is something that I have never seen in a book before and I thought that it was a very different and creative way of telling the story. All the people live in the same town called Scrub Harbor. They all tell what happens in their lives and it shows how they feel about one another. Also, in many other books, I wondered what the other characters were thinking about one another. This book gives the point of view of all the characters. Some people want to change the name of the town and some people don't. When you are reading this, it is hard to put down because it is so intriguing, you to want to read more. All ages would enjoy reading this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a great book. This book showed how a teenager searchs for who they are through a town that is debating wether to change it's name. I would recommend this book to anyone who is not sure who they are or where they fit in.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If your a new kid, poor kid, black kid(which I am), gay kid, etc. then this book is for you. It touches on all of our(teenagers) issues. From racism, college, being the new kid or just different, this book has it all.