Struggling in the wake of his father’s suicide, fifteen-year-old Evan Galloway hopes that uncovering old family secrets will give him insight into the tragedy. As they search for answers, he and his best friend, Alexis, shine a light into the past . . . realizing too late that some secrets are best kept in the dark.
The Namesake is the winner of the 2011 Tassy Walden Award
for New Voices in Children’s (and Young Adult) Literature.
EXCERPT THE NAMESAKE, Merit Press Books, 2012
Mister Pettafordi’s office is examining room bright.
It makes me queasy, like I’m here for X-rays—which, in a way, I
am. My art teacher slash guidance counselor slash “Think of me as your
friend” wants to help. That’s how I landed in the vinyl visitor chair on the
wrong side of his desk. I should be in silent study, passing notes to Alexis.
Instead, I’m here, embarrassed for Michelangelo’s David. He’s beside the
file cabinet, a red umbrella hanging from his crooked elbow, looking a
little vulnerable, naked under the lights.
I need to write this stupid essay. Mr. P’s fixated on getting me a full
scholarship; he says I’m his “best student ever.” But then, that’s what my
teachers always say.
Mister P: “Evan, you need to pursue your art.”
Mister P: “Evan, you’ve got what it takes.”
Mister P: “Evan, follow your dream!”
Thing is, I think it’s his dream more than mine now.
But I’m trying to get a jump on this heap of applications. Pettafordi said
I need to “dazzle them” with my essay. I asked what I should write about.
He said, “Evan, write what you know.”
As helpful as that was, I’ve chosen the opposite. See, I’m not sure I
want to study art, or even go to college anymore. So I’ll write what I don’t
know. I could do twenty pages on spark plugs or the reproductive cycle of
the Andean potato weevil. Except, those I could research. No. I’ll tackle
the true unknown.
I never knew my father.
I don’t mean that in a trash TV kind of way. Like, Up Next, DNA Tests:
Real Dads Revealed! It’s not like that. Mom wasn’t a sperm bank patron. I
wasn’t raised by wolverines. I’ve lived most of my fourteen years in a room
two doors down from the man, falling asleep to his snores. I could map
you his morning stubble, a whorl on his chin like Madagascar.
Nope. Nothing dramatic about the Galloways. We were typical. Mom
made Campbell’s soup casseroles. Dad fell asleep in the leather chair on
movie night. We were about as normal as it gets. At least, that’s what
Before last April.
Now when I think about stuff, it’s all about how it used to be. We
used to have Monopoly marathons. Build model planes. Gorge ourselves
at China Buffet. We used to . . . whatever.
A great philosopher once said, “Used-to-bes don’t count anymore.”
Okay, it was this singer, Neil Diamond. My friend Alexis is a huge fan.
But I disagree with Old Neil because, really, used-to-bes are the only things
that do count anymore. Especially when today sucks so bad.
It’s funny how perfectly life splits into before and after. Before, it was
just life, crappy or un’. After, everything’s different.
But I was going to tell you about my father.
My Father by Evan Galloway
My father is tall.
My father is fun.
My father reads stories and
Plays with me.
My father is the best, FATHER NUMBER ONE!
I wrote that in first grade. You could say my opinion of him has evolved.
For one thing, I realized he was never all that tall. I admit the poem loses
something sans macaroni frame, but I think it shows real literary promise.
I mean, after reading that, I’m sure you can see how I ended up in Honors
Yeah, I’m smart. All through school I’ve been in the brain group: TAG,
the Talented And Gifted Program. It’s actually sort of cool, loads of field
trips, elaborate, “self-guided learning opportunities.” Sure, the regular
kids call us “Tag Fags,” but that’s never really bothered me. Not much.
It’s jealousy, plain and simple. And come on—tag fag?—such an obvious
rhyme. Leave it to a remedial reader.
Now I’m at Saint Sebastian’s Catholic High School, third year,
following Dad’s footsteps. Yeah, he went here. But I one-upped the old
man; I’ll graduate at sixteen. They jumped me a couple grades. So I’m the
second Evan Galloway to attend SSCHS. My family calls me “Junior,”
but technically, I’m not. Dad and I don’t have the same middle name. Or,
didn’t. I do that sometimes, refer to him like he’s still here. Like he didn’t
kill himself last spring. Like Gran didn’t find him hanging from a beam in
her attic Easter morning, while Mom and I were at Mass.