My Book World
If I had had the time, I would have read Name All the Animals in one sitting. In this memoir, the author begins benignly by sharing with readers in great detail how close she and her brother Roy are at ages nine and twelve, respectively, so close that their mother names them Alroy. Together, they explore an abandoned house in their neighborhood. And then, in a similar way to how it must shock the narrator and her parents, it shocks the reader to learn of Roy’s death at eighteen. The rest of the book covers several years following in which Alison finishes high school. She demonstrates how her family, good Catholics, avoid all the questions that should be asked and tackled. Alison develops an inner and outer world of her own making, all in aid of forgetting and yet commemorating her brother. In failing to grieve, however, she cuts herself off from most people until she meets one she can’t resist. Smith tells this harrowing story without sentiment but with all due regard for the truth. She structures it in such a manner that readers discover along with her how she must grow up, how she must proceed without Roy in her life.