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The Girl with the Wrong Name
by Barnabas Miller
Her memory is gone. All that is left from The Night in Question is the scar. Because of that one night, Theo is hiding from life. She spends her summer at a café secretly filming random people. That all changes when the same boy begins coming in every day at the same time. Theo tries to remain an observer, but soon she is caught up in the boy’s story.
The boy, Andy, is desperate to find Sarah, a girl who promised to meet him at the café but never showed. Andy is convinced that something bad has happened to Sarah. Caught up in Andy’s love for the mystery girl, Theo embarks on a quest to help Andy find Sarah. However, as she encounters others she is warned to stay away from Andy. In a desperate attempt to find Sarah, Theo realizes that some people will do anything to keep their secrets hidden forever.
The Girl with the Wrong Name follows Theo’s journey. The story is told from Theo’s point of view, which adds mystery and suspense. It is clear from the beginning that Theo is not completely emotionally stable, however, this does not diminish her likeability. Theo’s concerned for Sarah’s wellbeing is real which allows the reader to also feel concern for the missing girl.
The story is fast-paced and interesting. Since the story is told from Theo’s point of view, the reader doesn’t fully understand the other character’s reactions; however, instead of being confusing, this adds to the story’s suspense. The book has several surprises which are revealed and a sweet conclusion. In the end, the book gives a clear message about the dangers of keeping secrets.
Although the story’s recommended reading age is 14+, there is mature sex that some readers are not ready for. The ending, while interesting, may be disturbing, especially to those who have not read more mature content.
- One of the characters is described as “smelling like sex.” Theo thinks, “That’s disgusting. Not to mention impossible. ‘What could sex possibly smell like?’ I’d ask. ‘Cigarettes and cheap vodka? Latex and Axe body spray? Prom corsages and shame.’ But now I swore I could actually smell it. Like sarin gas permeating the entire room. Toxic and sticky. Acrid and humid. Warm, pubescent bodies in a can.”
- Thoe’s friend is “superglued . . . via her ass to the crotch of Mike ‘Me Like’ DeMonaco.” Later a friend explains the friend’s behavior. “We’ve all been slaves to the same social structure since at least junior high, right? Mike could never hook up with a girl like Lou because the Sharks would have given him shit. Same for Lou . . . imagine what you would have done to her if she’d ever confessed her scorching pelvic desire for a dude who endorses butt chugging.”
- One of the characters meets a girl, falls in love with her, and has sex with her all in one day. The sex is never described. However, Theo tells the boy that the girl disappeared because, “she’s drowning so deep in embarrassment, she can barely breathe. Not because she feels like a slut, but because she’s one hundred percent certain that you think she’s a slut.”
- Theo writes “A Declaration of Romantic Intent” for her friend to give to a boy. She playfully writes, “I really, really, really, really want to have vigorous sexual intercourse with you, preferably in the back of a smelly taxi, or perhaps in one of those pee-stained bathroom stalls in the boys’ locker room or the girl’s locker room, if you think that is hotter. I’m cool either way.”
- When Theo confronts a woman at a party, two men grab her and take her into the restroom. They have an argument. A girl interrupts and takes Theo outside.
- Theo goes to a wedding and then flees. As she leaves, someone follows her so he can talk to her. As he tries to help her, “I whirl and kick him, barefoot, in the crotch. As he doubles over, I sprint down the street.”
- Theo finds a video of her sister’s death. After her sister secretly marries, the two go into a room to have sex. When the girl is eager to consummate the marriage, the boy gets angry and yells, “Jesus. . . Have you done this before? Do not fucking lie to me. . . Are you PURE? Or are you a slut? Because if you want it like a slut, I can do that.” He then jumps on top of her and hits her until she is unconscious. As they struggled, candles are scattered and the room catches fire. The boy leaves the girl, who dies in the blaze.
- Years later when the above boy grows up, a similar situation arises. After he marries another girl, he gets upset and wants to know “Are you pure?” He attacks the girl. Theo races in trying to stop the man. The woman had, “blood on her chest, blood on her bare stomach. She was only wearing panties and a camisole.” During the struggle, the man was killed.
Drugs and Alcohol
- Theo takes Lezapro to help her deal with stress. In one scene she thinks, “So now it’s just me and my dear frenemy Lexapro. Sometimes I just call him ‘Lex.’ He halfheartedly wards off my depression and anxiety all day, but then keeps me awake all night so I can dream up more depressing and anxious scenarios for him to ward off come dawn. It’s the neurotic circle of life!”
- Theo goes to a club and “Douchey-but-Harmless” asks to buy her a drink. Theo asks for water. Later, he takes her into the bathroom and, “pulls out a small plastic baggie filled with white powder.” Theo freaks and is kicked out of the club.
- Theo goes to a bridesmaid party that she wasn’t invited to. While there she drank campaign. “The champagne hits my tongue with a sweet, delectable fizz, and I down the first glass without thinking.” After three glasses, she thinks, “I need to stop; I’m not here to get shit-faced.”
- Profanity is scattered liberally throughout the book. The profanity used includes WTF, shit, ass, asshole, dumbass, pissed, fuck, hell, and crap.
- When Theo walks into a restaurant, she was “bitch-slapped by a foul odor.”
- When Theo sees her friend sitting on a guy’s lap, she asks someone, “Okay, what the hell is going on with Lou?”
- Theo tells her friend, “Jesus, I was at the Trout this afternoon, remember I saw the whole thing.” Her friend replies, “Oh, God, was I that obvious.” Jesus and God’s name are used in this manner several times in the story.
- Theo meets a friend a day after the appointed time. She thinks, “After all, I’d risked serious injury to surprise him with my heroic return from Alienating New York Bitchhood.”
- While in a bathroom stall with a boy, Theo tells him, “Open the goddamn door.” When she tries to get out, he drops his stash of drugs and growls, “What the fuck?”
- A man shows up at a woman’s shelter and begins yelling, “BITCH, GET YOUR SHANK ASS DOOWN HERE, GODDAMIT!”