"Isaac" leaves his home in Addis Ababa because he wants a better life than what his family can give him. He arrives Uganda and becomes friends with Isaac, a brazen young man from the slum, who's just as eager as "Isaac" to make something of himself. The chaos in Uganda and a curious combination of circumstances result in "Isaac" fleeing to America. He gets to America and is assigned to Helen, a social worker in Laurel, a tiny town in Midwest America. He's supposed to be just another one of her cases but they get pretty close.
There is nothing impressive about All Our Names. I expected way, way more than I got. It's just another novel on the shelf. Just another novel added to the long list of novels I've read in my lifetime. The only thing stuck in my head after reading this book is the author's first name "Dinaw", which I find very interesting for some reason. I hurried to buy this book because I had seen Dinaw Mengestu often listed in the same sentence with names like Chimamanda Adichie, Ishmael Beal, and other internationally celebrated authors of African descent, and that got me excited. I'll buy and review Dinaw's first and second novels: "The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears" and "How to Read the Air". One or both of them had to have been mightily impressive enough to get him noticed and I really want to see him at his best. All Our Names is not Dinaw Mengestu at his best. It can't be.
[Image via Amazon]