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Subtle, intelligent, and quietly devastating, All Our Names is a novel about identity, about the names we are given and the names we earn. The emotional power of Mengestu's work is indelible.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By David on 07-31-14
A Tale of Two Continents
This was a beautifully written, thoughtful book about the very different lives taken for granted by natives of two continents, a troubled region in Africa and a complacent midwestern America. The story follows Isaac, an impoverished African who flees civil war to become a curious, lonely student in Illinois. He is befriended by the equally isolated social worker Helen, and they slowly build a relationship. The best chapters take place in Africa, during the student uprising that inspired Isaac's closest friend. But the most memorable scene takes place in a small-town American luncheonette. Isaac expects little, and in her own way Helen also has muted ambitions. There are many moving moments on both continents. And both narrators are excellent, with the right voices of tenderness and regret. A strongly recommended novel.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
By Janna Wong Healy on 03-17-16
Compelling and Worldly
This is a good book, emotional and thoughtfully written. If I had known more about the time, place and political setting, I think I would have enjoyed it more as so much of the story and the male protagonist's journey depends on the reader's knowledge of the political climate in Africa.
The narrators were very good -- easy to listen to and both provided the right amount of care and emotion,