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What's in a Name Paperback – August 21, 2008


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (August 21, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416984828
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416984825
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 4.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,609,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Wittlinger (Hard Love) convincingly creates 10 distinct teen voices, each of which takes a turn narrating a chapter. While the chapters offer readers only a glimpse of each character, several of them feature in the other teens' accounts, and bittersweet, even piercing musings run through many of the narratives ("It's as if my emotions are twice the size of normal people's," says one character, pained by unrequited love. "I'm the Arnold Schwarzenegger of sensitivity"). The vignettes rally around a rather tenuous theme--everyone in Scrub Harbor is caught up in a war over the town's name. The wealthy population, the "Follys," wants to change it to the more elegant Folly Bay, hoping to add value to their real estate; the poorer families, the "Scrubs," want to maintain their traditions. Yet the teens' cogent reflections fortify the volume. They reveal what runs deeper than their "Folly" or "Scrub" moniker. The dialogue can feel like forced teen-speak in spots ("You talk like a frigging moron. Get a life, why don'tcha," the football star yells at his younger brother), but readers will likely respond to the realism of both the characters and their dilemmas. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up-A subtle and completely realistic novel told in multiple voices. What starts out as a quest to change a small town's name turns into personal journeys of self-discovery for 10 teens. The ongoing debate about which name is best for the town, Scrub Harbor or Folly Bay, lightly overlays the main story line, while the characters struggle to hold their lives together and figure out who they really are. One boy faces the fact that he is gay and chooses to "come out" via a poem published in the school literary magazine, while his football-star jock of an older brother is forced to deal with being irrevocably linked to his brother. An angry girl thaws with the help of a Brazilian exchange student, who in turn realizes that the language barrier helps rather than hinders his understanding of humans in general, and himself in particular. A transferring senior realizes that he isn't the popular boy he used to be at his old school, and must reinvent himself to find his place in Scrub Harbor. The fact that these teens are all struggling to find out who they are, and that everybody is constantly in flux, becomes the main theme that links all of these seemingly unconnected narrative threads together. The teenagers are compelling, and there's more depth to them and the story than readers might expect from the simplistic title.
Linda Bindner, formerly at Athens Clarke County Library, GA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "katezilla" on April 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Ellen Wittlinger has written some truly wonderful young-adult novels, and WHAT'S IN A NAME lives up to the standards set by her other books. The format here is slightly different from her others: ten different characters tell their own stories while also contributing to the overarching plot, which concerns the efforts of some of the residents of Scrub Harbor to change the town's name to Folly Bay. As always, Wittlinger's stories are character-driven, so the plot never seems contrived; she also has a knack for making you sympathize with characters that you probably didn't think you would like. For me, this happened with the characters of Quincy and Gretchen, both "popular" kids in their high school. I expected their stories to be less interesting than the other characters', who are a little quirkier, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Quincy's and Gretchen's stories drew me in just as much as those of the other kids.
I have to disagree with one of the editorial reviews, which said that the characters all seemed defined by their circumstances. In my opinion, one of Wittlinger's strengths is that she never allows her characters to just be caricatures. As I said above, they have their quirks, some more than others, but in the end, they are all real (and interesting) people.
I highly recommend WHAT'S IN A NAME.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book really potraits the different sides and things that teenagers go trough. I got this book from a friend of mine and I totally fell in love with this book. As a teenager, it is a very great book to read and see other people like you with their own little problems.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Little Willow on April 3, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read the bulk of What's In a Name? in one sitting. The story is actually 8 chapters - 1 narrator per chapter - and set in a small town which is debating over changing its name. Each story has a character exploring his or her identity and the meaning of their popularity, sexuality, long term boyfriends/girlfriends, family, friends, school, future and so forth.
It was a very quick and enjoyable read. I enjoyed Ellen's writing style. The teens were thoughtful, not vacant; they spoke like kids but also didn't say "like" or curse every other line. I only wish there had been one final wrap-up chapter to catch us up one last time with all of the characters we had met. However, I like the book as a hold and recommended to friends who liked small town coming-of-age novels.
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Format: Paperback
Scrub Harbor? or Folly Bay? That is the arguement that is going on amongst a group of kids, each who have their own problems on and off of school. But this debate about changing the name of a small town has all the kids in an uproar. At home and at school. So much so, that they are taking sides against their friends, each other, and this is starting to be a real mess. Is the name of a town really so important? Well I guess you'll have to see.
Ellen Wittlinger's book is all about acceptance, and friendship and labels and how one cannot labels define who they are. Which is what the teenagers of this book are learning. I also like how this book takes place in different perspectives. Each chapter is each kids different perspective. I like that. This book is a short read, but a good book.
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By Audrey H. on December 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book. I liked the fact that it is told in the viewpoints of ten different teenagers. It's not too long so you can read it in one sitting which I believe is the best choice because you can easily get the characters mixed up. The characters in this book are likable and since the chapters are so short, the author leaves you wanting more.

It's not very complex or difficult to understand so if you're looking for a good YA book to read on a boring afternoon, this will definitely hold your attention.
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By Alexandra on August 13, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This tells the story of a small Massachusetts town, Scrub Harbor, during a time when some people want to change the name to Folly Bay to make it sound better. It is told through ten different high schoolers, each with a different opinion. Ms. Wittlinger uses all the basic high school stereotypes: the outcast, the nice-to-everyone girl, the jock, the popular rich girl, the new kid, the shy girl, the smart kid, the weirdo, and the exchange student. Each of them has a different opinion on the name changing, and each of them realizes that, maybe, it's not something's name or label that matters, but what's inside. This book made me see how limiting stereotypes could be, and how they grow old and don't always fit anymore.
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