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Calling My Name
Cover of Calling My Name
Calling My Name
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"Calling My Name is a treasure."—Nic Stone, New York Times–bestselling author of Dear Martin

Calling My Name is a striking, luminous, and literary exploration of family, spirituality, and self—ideal for readers of Jacqueline Woodson, Jandy Nelson, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Sandra Cisneros. This unforgettable novel tells a universal coming-of-age story about Taja Brown, a young African American girl growing up in Houston, Texas, and deftly and beautifully explores the universal struggles of growing up, battling family expectations, discovering a sense of self, and finding a unique voice and purpose. Told in fifty-three short, episodic, moving, and iridescent chapters, Calling My Name follows Taja on her journey from middle school to high school. Literary and noteworthy, this is a beauty of a novel that captures the multifaceted struggle of finding where you belong and why you matter.

"Calling My Name is a treasure."—Nic Stone, New York Times–bestselling author of Dear Martin

Calling My Name is a striking, luminous, and literary exploration of family, spirituality, and self—ideal for readers of Jacqueline Woodson, Jandy Nelson, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Sandra Cisneros. This unforgettable novel tells a universal coming-of-age story about Taja Brown, a young African American girl growing up in Houston, Texas, and deftly and beautifully explores the universal struggles of growing up, battling family expectations, discovering a sense of self, and finding a unique voice and purpose. Told in fifty-three short, episodic, moving, and iridescent chapters, Calling My Name follows Taja on her journey from middle school to high school. Literary and noteworthy, this is a beauty of a novel that captures the multifaceted struggle of finding where you belong and why you matter.

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About the Author-
  • Liara Tamani lives in Houston, Texas. She holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College and a BA from Duke University. Calling My Name is her first book. www.liaratamani.com

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    July 15, 2017
    An African-American girl living in Houston, Texas, with her close-knit family--parents, younger sister, and older brother--grows from flat-chested preadolescent to a young woman about to go to college. Readers meet her on a Sunday morning when she uses the excuse of an upset stomach to stay home from church--and loves it. Brought up in a strictly religious household, Taja begins to question the existence of God and the way of life that she has been taught to lead. When she falls in love for the first time, her inner conflict strains further, and Taja is faced with the biggest challenge of her life thus far. Taja deals with the insecurities that most young people feel regarding identity, love, and fitting in. Her relationship to her spirituality as well as her negotiations with self-discovery, acceptance, and burgeoning sexuality are also explored. With Taja as narrator, readers see her life juxtaposed against her older brother's, who is given the freedom traditionally afforded boys and not girls, not just in church, but also by society in general. It's a slow-build narrative coated in ornate language that may initially distract readers but pays off in the end, bringing them close to the heart of Taja and the higher power she yearns toward. Stylish prose brings home quiet depths. (Fiction. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    September 1, 2017

    Gr 9 Up-This lush debut novel is written in distinct prose that reads like poetry. The coming-of-age tale follows the journey of Taja Brown. Readers are introduced to Taja when she is 11 years old, and continue follow her story through the end of high school. She struggles to maintain her relationship with God in her close-knit and religious community in Houston, Texas while still exploring sex without shame. Each chapter is a short vignette, giving teens a peek into the girl's progression into adolescence. Tamani's writing taps all of the senses; readers will taste and smell Taja's stifling world. Taja is a quirky character filled with wonder and subtle subversion, surrounded by an ensemble of characters and a setting that is oppressively narrow. Young adults will connect with this protagonist and this dynamic new voice. Fans of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas will especially love this lyrical novel. VERDICT A tender story that will make a great selection in any library collection.-Christina Vortia, Hype Lit, Land O'Lakes, FL

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 11, 2017
    Tamani’s debut novel brims with heart and soul, following its African-American protagonist, Taja Brown, as she searches for spirituality, love, and a sense of self during middle school and high school. Expressive writing creates intimacy from the outset, and Taja’s relationship with God is especially absorbing; even when her spirituality isn’t explicitly discussed, it shapes her actions and the way she views the world. Her honesty about her doubts and her desire find God on her own terms make her relatable and real. “I want to tell Gigi everything: my doubts about good people going to hell just because they happen to be a different religion or happen to mow their lawns or wash their cars or plant begonias on Sunday instead of going to church,” Taja reflects during a visit to see her ailing great-grandmother. “Most of all, I want to tell Gigi about the God I feel inside of me when I get still.” The discussion of religion never feels heavy handed or prescriptive; it’s clear that Taja’s journey is hers alone. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jennifer Carlson, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner.

  • Booklist (starred review) ★ "An excellent portrayal of African American culture, gorgeous lyrical prose, strong characters, and societal critique make Tamani's debut a must-read."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Taja deals with the insecurities that most young people feel regarding identity, love, and fitting in. Stylish prose brings home quiet depths."
  • Nic Stone, author of Dear Martin "If there's one book I wish I could reach through time and hand to seventeen-year-old me, it's this one. Calling My Name is a treasure."
  • School Library Journal "This lush debut novel is written in distinct prose that reads like poetry. Young adults will connect with this protagonist and this dynamic new voice. Fans of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas will especially love this lyrical novel. A great selection in any library collection."
  • Publishers Weekly "Tamani's debut novel brims with heart and soul, following its African-American protagonist, Taja Brown, as she searches for spirituality, love, and a sense of self. Absorbing."
  • Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) "While not quite stream of consciousness, this novel moves dreamily along wayward paths. ...Readers willing to be swept along by Tamani's poetic language and imagery will appreciate the journey. ... This debut is reminiscent of Jacqueline Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming or Marilyn Hilton's Full Cicada Moon."
  • Chicago Tribune "For Taja, the narrator of Liara Tamani's luminous episodic debut, faith in God is as much a part of her as her long legs and brown skin...a complex portrait of a young woman trying to reconcile what she's been taught, both in church and out in the world, with what she truly believes."
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    HarperCollins
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