They Could Have Named Her Anything Summary and Reviews

They Could Have Named Her Anything

by Stephanie Jimenez

They Could Have Named Her Anything by Stephanie Jimenez X
They Could Have Named Her Anything by Stephanie Jimenez
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Book Summary

Racism, class, and betrayal collide in this poignant debut novel about restoring the broken bonds of family and friendship.

Every morning, seventeen-year-old Maria Anís Rosario takes the subway an hour from her boisterous and close-knit family in Queens to her private high school on the Upper East Side, where she struggles to fit in as one of the only Latina students—until Rocky welcomes her into this new life. White, rebellious, and ignored by her wealthy parents, Rocky uses her money toward one goal: to get away with anything. To Maria, it's a dazzling privilege.

As a bond develops between these unlikely friends, neither can see what they share most—jealousy and the desire for each other's lives. But crackling under the surface of their seemingly supportive alliance, the girls begin to commit little betrayals as they strive to get closer to their ideals regardless of the consequences.

Told from the perspectives of Maria, Rocky, and their fathers, They Could Have Named Her Anything explores the heartfelt expectation of what it means to live up to the name you've been given and the more rewarding discovery of what really matters.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Bristling with adolescent insecurities, sexual tension, and status consciousness, Jimenez's debut is a natural for both adult and teen readers." - Kirkus Reviews

"In this beautiful debut, Jimenez boldly examines the desperate desire to fit in as an American minority living in a rich, white-dominated society. She unveils the struggles of both the upper and working classes with incredible empathy and sophistication, for a thoroughly engaging read." - Booklist

"[The plot] offers sharp insights about teens from different worlds. Highly recommended for mature audiences." - School Library Journal

"Jimenez's insightful, pulsing novel succeeds in its relatability, nailing that sweet spot between teen and adult fiction." - Salon

"Told from the unique perspectives of two unique girls and their fathers, this sharp debut has a lot to say about family, friendship and what's really important in life." - Ms. Magazine

"Stephanie Jimenez's characters want to know, desperately, sincerely, where they might belong. In pursuit of this question, they cross borders and expectations—of class and race, of their roles as women, daughters, fathers, lovers—barreling through their mistakes with clear-eyed hope that it will pay off. They Could Have Named Her Anything is a powerful reminder that moving between worlds is rarely free, and that the most valuable educations take place outside the classroom." - Danielle Lazarin, author of Back Talk: Stories

"They Could Have Named Her Anything is a profound exploration of desire: the desire to fit in, the desire to understand ourselves, the desire to be accepted for exactly who we are...Stephanie Jimenez comes to her debut with rare insight and extraordinary empathy, bringing us characters so real they feel like family." - Danya Kukafka, author of Girl in Snow

"This gorgeous debut from Stephanie Jimenez brims with visceral details. They Could Have Named Her Anything captures all of the aggressive beauty and tension of growing up, the complexity of families, and what it's like to come of age in a city among millions. I was immediately drawn in by Maria, Jimenez's sharp and observant protagonist, and her vivid, urgent journey." - Natalka Burian, author of Welcome to the Slipstream and A Woman's Drink

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Author Information

Stephanie Jimenez

Stephanie Jimenez is a former Fulbright recipient. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in the Guardian; O, The Oprah Magazine; the New York Times; Joyland Magazine; and more. She completed a novel-writing intensive at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, and she attended the 2017 Bread Loaf Writers' Conference for fiction. They Could Have Named Her Anything is her debut novel. She lives in Queens, New York.

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