Recommended to me by gogoangelgunboy
A boy from Hawaii attended my middle school for a short time. I remember two things: 1) He was quite friendly, at least toward me, struck up conversations with me, and wanted to sit with me during lunch. At the time, I didn't think anything, but I now know that's because I was the only Asian face in a sea of white, and he must've felt most comfortable around me. 2) He got into a violent fight one day in the cafeteria with a bunch of boys. It's the only fight I ever saw or knew about in all my years of school. After it happened, he never came back to school; his parents enrolled him in a private school somewhere. (They had to have been reasonably well-off.) This book reminds me of this kid.Yamanaka, Lois-Ann. Name Me Nobody. 1999. New York: Hyperion, 2000.Summary
: Emi-Lou's problems begin after joining the softball team with her friend Von. While trying to lose weight, she has to deal with her jealousy over Von's (female) lover, with her classmate Kyle extorting her for essays and even trying to rape her, and with a boyfriend torn between wanting her and wanting the popular girl. Then Von's family finds out that she's a lesbian, and Sterling starts two-timing her. Emi-Lou feels like a nobody. But, in the end, the friends admit that they were all being jerks and decide to start over. Emi-Lou joins the softball team again, and this time she is doing it for herself, not her friend.Comments
: Ugly and mean-spirited. Ugly because the prose (though the dialogue, which is almost entirely in pidgin, made for great local flavor...if only they said more of substance!) was flat and lifeless, which may be a factor of the target readership age--I don't know as I've not read any of Yamanaka's adult novels. Mean-spirited because, I mean, dammit, EVERYONE in this novel was a self-centered, whiny jerk or an outright bully! Heck, I was undoubtedly fatter than Emi-Lou at her age, and I never had to deal with bullying or name-calling. Not ever. Not to mention that pretty much everyone is prejudiced, and they're not afraid to say so. All they seem to care about is sports and status. Oh, and they're violent too, especially the girls. Is it really that bad in Hawaii? Or is Hilo some sort of low-income ghetto? (Didn't seem that way...) The characters weren't especially interesting, either, certainly not worth the time of day that they all spent angsting about each other. Moreover, I wasn't entirely convinced by the subplot involving Emi-Lou's struggle to overcome her homophobia. She seemed more jealous than pissed off on principle. A badly-executed moment. I'm not thrilled, either, about the way in which laxatives and diuretics are shown to be the route to peer acceptance. Though Yamanaka tried for a happy ending, it comes quickly and feels somewhat insincere. The meanness leaves a far more lasting impression and blackens the book irreparably.Notes
: young adult paperback, 3rd printingRating
- Talk about a feel-bad book. Not recommended to fragile young adults, though I suppose it makes for an interesting "case study" of some pretty messed up high school students from Hawaii.