The Name She Gave Me -- YA Novel about Adoption, Family & More!


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Today I get to share another novel from Betty Culley. This one is a young adult novel written in verse. It delves into the topic of adoption, family, belonging and so much more. The book is The Name She Gave Me

From the Publisher:

A heartbreakingly beautiful novel in verse about adoption, family, friendship, and love in all its many forms, perfect for fans of Robin Benway and Jandy Nelson, from the acclaimed author of Three Things I Know Are True.

Rynn was born with a hole in her heart—literally. Although it was fixed long ago, she still feels an emptiness there when she wonders about her birth family.

As her relationship with her adoptive mother fractures, Rynn finally decides she needs to know more about the rest of her family. Her search starts with a name, the only thing she has from her birth mother, and she quickly learns that she has a younger sister living in foster care in a nearby town. But if Rynn reconnects with her biological sister, it may drive her adoptive family apart for good.

This powerful story uncovers both beautiful and heartbreaking truths and explores how challenging, yet healing, family can be.

From Me:

Before the book begins, Betty Culley shares a bit of her own life story in a letter to the readers. She entered foster care at the age of nine months. As an adult she met her siblings and birth father. She used some of her own experiences to write this book. This book is fiction, but it is personal and delves into emotions an adopted child may feel and truly emotions we all feel--the need to belong and feel loved. 

The story is written in verse. Sometimes I feel verse can deter from the story, but Betty does it beautifully. Being in verse actually makes it easier to read. The verse is written in such a manner that it flows and reads like a non-verse story. 

The characters are well developed. Rynn is a teenager trying to figure it all out. She is adopted. Her adoptive parents changed her name to Rynn. She knows her birth name was Scheherazade and her birth mother wanted her to grow up on a farm. Her father is a garlic farmer in Maine. Her adopted mother is emotionally abusive. Rynn really just wants to belong. She wants to know why her mother gave her up. And why her mother decided to keep her younger sister. 

Rynn has loving friends and neighbors who truly become her family. She gets a summer job babysitting for a young boy on a neighboring farm. There we are introduced to a mixed family. The older son of the farmer comes for his obligatory summer visit with his dad and his dad's family but has strict rules about what he can do after an accident on the farm when he was young. He begins calling Rynn by her birth name. Rynn has many names and nicknames in this book, but her names are all pieces of her puzzle and history. 

I love how this book explores family and relationships. It truly shares that we can find our own people. It shares a bit about history and love and so much more. Plus it shares Rynn fighting for her younger sister and finding her own voice and own strength. I hope you will check it out.