The book opens with Baby going to get her driver’s permit and discovering that she has been called “Baby” her whole life because her parents forgot to actually give her a name. Thus begins Baby’s quest to find a name, define her view of family, and find her place in life.
NO USE FOR A NAME has excellent pacing, great tension, and some sweetness and humor mixed in for good measure. The language is strong—as necessitated by the subject matter—and there are some scenes that make the book more appropriate for older YA readers.
Baby and her cousin and best friend, Kaia, are multidimensional characters, and their escapades range from typical teenage fun (visiting the ice cream shop at the mall repeatedly because a cute boy works there) to somewhat typical poor choices (sneaking out after bedtime). The girls are likeable and relateable, and readers will be rooting for both to successfully sort out their myriad of problems. Some of the secondary characters are stereotypes, and the book starts with an improbable scenario (can you really get a drivers permit at age fifteen without a parent present?) and includes some others that would have made me pause in a less riveting book, but the constant drama and action had me flipping pages to race to the end rather than stopping to critique some of the scenarios.
This is a book that will give teens with dysfunctional backgrounds a heroine to whom they can relate, and all teens should appreciate the realistic look at high school relationships and challenges.
A strong and compelling protagonist