Cover image for Names will never hurt me
Names will never hurt me
Adoff, Jaime.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Dutton's Children's Books, [2004]

Physical Description:
186 pages ; 22 cm
Several high school students relate their feelings about school, themselves, and events as they unfold on the fateful one-year anniversary of the killing of a fellow student.
Reading Level:
510 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 3.7 5.0 79028.

Reading Counts RC High School 5.1 10 Quiz: 36326 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

On Order



This gripping novel in prose-poetry form interweaves the stories of four high-school students: Kurt, the “freak” who gets bullied by his peers; Ryan, the football star who walks the hallways like a king; Tisha, who feels like an unattractive misfit because she’s of mixed race; and Floater, the operator who acts as the principal’s right-hand man. During the course of a single school day, escalating events involving bullying, racism, and an accusation of rape bring these four very different teenagers together. As tensions rise and emotions reach the breaking point, will Kurt, Ryan, Tisha, and Floater be able to reach out to one another before tragedy occurs?

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 7-10. It's the one-year anniversary of high-schooler Jake Stiles' murder, and the local TV station is conducting on-site interviews with students, asking the question, Are the kids really alright? Everyone knows the painful truth: No, they are not. This is high school at its most painful, seen through the eyes of the kids living it--the jocks, the misfits, the freaks, the truly miserable. Speaking in short bursts of frustration and hurt, four teens convey their high-school experiences and perceptions in passages that are interspersed with reporter's interviews, principals' angst-ridden musings, and hallway asides that all lead up to a surprising climax. Adoff creates palpable tension as he explores each character's state of mind through the physical and emotional pain of being ignored, rejected, or terrorized. Though gratifying, the ending is somewhat unrealistic. Still, this is a powerful, complex, skillfully written novel that even the most reluctant reader will find accessible. --Frances Bradburn Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Adoff's (The Song Shoots Out of My Mouth) novel brings stereotypes and some gimmicky writing to a familiar plot about deadly violence at a high school. Segments relayed in different formats (first-person accounts, transcripts, free verse) focus on a small cast over the course of one day, the anniversary of the drug-related slaying of an upperclassman. Golden-boy quarterback Ryan's sovereignty at school is undercut by the beatings he endures from his widower dad, the Colonel; these in turn fuel Ryan's hatred of "losers" (in a broad hint to readers, the Colonel warns of danger and reminds Ryan, early on, to take his "just in case" to school). Kurt, the uber-pariah, listens to weird music, attracts every bully within range and threatens, silently, to explode. The most likable character, Tisha, gets bullied, too, because she's half black, half white. Floater, a fat, power-mad former outcast, serves as the craven principal's personal snitch. Enter a news reporter filming live interviews, unaccompanied by school staff; throw in a girl's accurate charge that Ryan has molested her, which will cost Ryan his college scholarship; gather all the players near the principal's office and wait for the "just in case" to go off. Instead of dissolving the story in chaos and destruction, the trigger scene brings about the imposition of justice and order, closing on a sudden note of cheer. Ages 12-up. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-There is an unsettling atmosphere at this Anytown, USA suburban high school-it is the one-year anniversary of a shooting death. The TV news crew is on hand to interview students, and the principal is on edge. The story is told through the eyes of four teenagers: Ryan, the football player who thinks he's a god; Kurt, the outcast oddball who regularly gets beaten but never fights back; Floater, the snitch filled with power lust; and Tisha, a lonely biracial girl who quietly watches all. Tension builds as the day progresses, as events unfold and worlds collide. As Ryan's perfect world begins to fall to pieces, Kurt's anger builds, Floater's dreams of fame go spinning out of control, and Tisha's frustration increases, it soon becomes apparent that something is going to happen, but what, and to whom? Writing in a free-verse, almost-poetic style, Adoff pulls off a young adult page-turner with literary ease. While readers may occasionally feel as though they've stepped into Columbine High School, rendering the purpose of the book clear, this does not hinder the novel's flow as the author shows who the real monsters are in this fictional world.-Angela J. Reynolds, Washington County Cooperative Library Services, Hillsboro, OR (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.