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Racism, class, and betrayal collide in this poignant debut novel about restoring the broken bonds of family and friendship.
Every morning, seventeen-year-old Maria Anís Rosario takes the subway an hour from her boisterous and close-knit family in Queens to her private high school on the Upper East Side, where she struggles to fit in as one of the only Latina students—until Rocky welcomes her into this new life. White, rebellious, and ignored by her wealthy parents, Rocky uses her money toward one goal: to get away with anything. To Maria, it’s a dazzling privilege.
As a bond develops between these unlikely friends, neither can see what they share most—jealousy and the desire for each other’s lives. But crackling under the surface of their seemingly supportive alliance, the girls begin to commit little betrayals as they strive to get closer to their ideals regardless of the consequences.
Told from the perspectives of Maria, Rocky, and their fathers, They Could Have Named Her Anything explores the heartfelt expectation of what it means to live up to the name you’ve been given and the more rewarding discovery of what really matters.
A Note From the Publisher
“Book lovers have a lot to look forward to in 2019. One of the most anticipated books we’re excited about is They Could Have Named Her Anything, a debut novel from author Stephanie Jimenez.” —HelloGiggles
“Penned by a Latinx author, this arrestingly titled debut is told from the perspective of two girls and their fathers…Racism, class, betrayal, family, and friendship are all dissected by this fresh new voice.” —Cos“Stephanie Jimenez’s characters want to know, desperately, sincerely, where they might belong. In pursuit of this question, they cross borders and expectations—of class and race, of their roles as women, daughters, fathers, lovers—barreling through their mistakes with clear-eyed hope that it will pay off. They Could Have Named Her Anything is a powerful reminder that moving between worlds is rarely free, and that the most valuable educations take place outside the classroom.” —Danielle Lazarin, author of Back Talk: Stories
“They Could Have Named Her Anything is a profound exploration of desire: the desire to fit in, the desire to understand ourselves, the desire to be accepted for exactly who we are. As our characters reckon with their own yearnings in a New York City full of dichotomies, this novel pulls us thrillingly between the Hamptons and Queens Boulevard, the private school system and working-class life. Stephanie Jimenez comes to her debut with rare insight and extraordinary empathy, bringing us characters so real they feel like family.” —Danya Kukafka, author of Girl in Snow
“This gorgeous debut from Stephanie Jimenez brims with visceral details. They Could Have Named Her Anything captures all of the aggressive beauty and tension of growing up, the complexity of families, and what it’s like to come of age in a city among millions. I was immediately drawn in by Maria, Jimenez’s sharp and observant protagonist, and her vivid, urgent journey.” —Natalka Burian, author of Welcome to the Slipstream and A Woman’s Drink
“They Could Have Named Her Anything is surprising, explosive, charged with suspense and drama as it travels from Queens to the Upper East Side to Las Vegas. And yet, it’s also contemplative and introspective, an intimate portrait of one young woman, stuck between secrets and lies, her responsibility to her family, and her own dreams. This book kept me guessing, intrigued, and revisiting my own adolescence, as I read to see how far Maria Rosario would go in her pursuit of her own life.” —Naima Coster, author of Halsey Street, finalist for the 2018 Kirkus Prize
“Lyrical, sophisticated, and oh-so-real, They Could Have Named Her Anything will take your breath away. Full of powerful, no-nonsense girls who know what they want and who’ll do anything to get it, They Could Have Named Her Anything is a timely love letter to womanhood, the messiness of friendship, and the city of New York.” —Ashley Woodfolk, author of The Beauty That Remains
“In They Could Have Named Her Anything, Stephanie Jimenez has constructed a beautiful, unflinching narrative about the time in one's life when we go from being defined by what others think of us to unapologetically embracing our complicated and fluid selves.” —Natalia Sylvester, author of Everyone Knows You Go Home and Chasing the Sun
“Stephanie Jimenez uses ultra-fine brushstrokes to paint a portrait of two families intertwined by fate and desire, wanting and becoming. With flawless eye for detail, we see just how differently the same city can look, even from the eyes of friends. Tightly drawn characters and beautifully woven plotting reveal the simple truth that coming of age for young women in the modern era is never simple at all. As Maria navigates a tightrope walk as a scholarship student from Queens in the world of elite private education, she learns the adult world is not what it seems and that bitter often comes with sweet. A haunting, unsparing tale of girlhood from an important new voice in literature.” —Meghann Foye, author of Meternity