CALLING OUT YOUR NAME is an adventure story for young adults, set largely in the Deep South in the recent past: a rural Georgia teenager sets off on an improbable journey to find his developmentally disabled younger brother, who's apparently run away.
Silver Medal Winner: Young Adult Fiction, Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Awards
Silver Medal Winner: Young Adult Fiction, Moonbeam Children's Books Awards
Semifinalist, Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, 2010
"A memorable hero...(and) a wonderful, adventurous coming-of-age story that takes the Georgia teenager on a daring journey from Macon to Malibu and from adolescence to maturity."
- Don O'Briant, former book editor, Atlanta Journal Constitution
"The unpretentious prose faultlessly captures Woody’s introspective nature, delivering some powerful moments with pragmatic bluntness ... and even minor supporting characters feel authentic and finely rendered." - Publishers Weekly reviewer
"The narrator's voice is so fresh and original that I didn't want to stop reading... The premise is strong, the characters are real, and I want to read more. Kudos to the author on a job very well done." - Amazon Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award Expert Reviewer
"Awesome job!" - - Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Expert Reviewer
Web Page: www.createspace.com
Reviewed by: Eric Jones
I grew up in Macon, GA, with all of those southern fixin’s that Ned White describes in his coming-of-age tale, “Calling Out Your Name”. When I was sixteen I did many of the same things that Woody Elmont does in Macon; going to the mall to window shop, traveling to friend’s houses to sit out under the stars and drink in secret, and chase my brother on foot along the Bible Belt in a frantic bid to clear his name from an arson and possible murder charge with the police hot on my heels. Ah, those were the days.
Apart from reminding me of my own childhood, “Calling Out Your Name” has a lot going for it in the spirit of “Huckleberry Finn”, modernized with Buicks instead of rafts, telephones instead of carried missives, and crooks who rob liquor stores instead of impersonating English dukes. There is even a misperceived death which features prominently in the finale, which might be a call back to Huck’s faking his own death before setting off down the Mississippi River, or in this case, highway.
Also like “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, “Calling Out Your Name” is written in the first person, using a colloquial southern style that I’ve been working hard to shed since I moved to Wisconsin last year. It’s nice to see it appear fondly here, and White appropriately tosses in plenty of good ole’ southern analogies like “that there won’t amount to a peehole in Georgia clay!” or “I scurried away like a cat up a tree”. Much of it works well in support of the protagonist’s personality and lends a lighthearted luminance to some of the darker parts of the story.
Woody’s brother, Tick, has a mild mental handicap that eventually lands him in juvenile detention after shoplifting from the local mall. Woody is relieved for a bit, enjoying the opportunity of living without the incessant responsibility of caring for both his brother and their aging aunt Zee. Then he gets word that a fire has reduced the facility to smoldering ruin and his brother is now on the lamb from the police, along with a friend of Woody’s who was also serving time, and both are suspected of having started it. This sends Woody on a cross-country adventure to find and retrieve both of them and clear their name.
The story is constructed episodically, with Woody running into various characters who offer help in his mission in exchange for work or companionship. The adventures of Woody are not devoid of humor, but White seems to favor an introspective mood that more often confirms Woody in his moral decision to lie and evade police in favor of finding his brother. This also parallels Huck’s decision to go against societal rules by allying himself with an African American, and solidifies White’s novel as a successful update of Twain’s classic tale while still standing on it’s own right as well.
“Calling Out Your Name” is a wonderful story, and maintains its integrity from beginning to finish, taking readers on a journey from one American coast to the next; from youth to manhood in a single arching stroke against a canvas with several layers. It’s a mystery tale, an adventure tale, a humorous tale, and a tale of growing up in the south. It has a breadth that is both broad and indelibly fine, making it a worthy comparison to its predecessor and a delightful inclusion for any book collection.
Where to find Ned White online
Where to buy in print
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