I saw this book in a used bookstore and picked it up because I was struck by the title and the image of the boy on the cover. I quickly read through it and then put it down, continuing my search for books for my seven-year-old son. But I kept thinking about the story, the characters and the illustrations. I knew that ten years from now, I would still remember how touched I was by the simple story of "I Never Knew Your Name", and I knew that if I didn't purchase the book I would always regret it. Although the central message of the story is the isolation of the boy who eventually commits suicide, and the failure of the narrator to reach out to him, I think I was more effected by the character of the narrator himself. A younger boy, also nameless, he observes the loner at night because he himself is staying up, waiting for his father to come and visit. A promise that his father didn't keep. Later in the book, the narrator is let down by his father again when he fails to take him on a promised fishing trip and the boy falls asleep clutching his fishing rod in his hand. The boy considers reaching out to the lone, older boy, but again, something holds him back. As a teacher and a parent, this image haunted me. It made me think about how important it is to keep your promises to your children...not just promises to 'buy them something'...but promises to be there for them and spend time with them. Since reading the book, I find myself hugging my son more and telling him that I love him and smiling when I see him. It made me realize that an action, or promise which might seem very trivial and unimportant in your own very busy adult life, may be of monumental importance to your child. Likewise, it made me think about the hundreds of children I have taught history over the last ten years...the quiet ones, who sit at the back of the class and don't cause any trouble...the ones that you are least likely to notice but who might be the most in need of your attention. I would like to thank the author and illustrator of this beautiful book for making me think about these things. I can't remember the last time I read something that moved me so deeply.
Good story...sad, but good.
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 21 years ago
Admitted it took me a couple read throughs to fully grasp every aspect of the story. I had not expected this kind of subject matter to be addressed in what looked like just another kid's book. The pictures work well here, I think the semi-defined art matches up with the limited knowledge of the child narrator. It serves to remind me much of the youth lifestyle I've lived through and seen much myself...one of popularity contests, in-crowds, loners, depression, and such. I think kids will learn a good lesson, and everyone else will stop and think after reading through it.
Excellent book to support suicide prevention for all readers
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 23 years ago
As a survivor of suicide, support group leader, crisis intervention specialist and teacher, I strongly recommend this book. It is suitable for any age group when properly supported by adults comfortable with this topic. Since 1980, the suicide rate has doubled for 10-14 year olds. Dialog must begin early and Garland offers us a wonderful opportunity to do just that without promoting her personal point of view. By reaching out to her readers to discuss this sensitive subject, she models the behavior that they may choose emulate - reaching out to others. Well done!!
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