Review and Summary: The Unnameables

Title:  The Unnameables

Author:  Ellen Booraem

Publisher:  Harcourt Inc.

Genre:  Fiction


Do you know how sometimes the dedications on some books are really mysterious and you could have absolutely no idea what it means?  Well this book has a dedication like that – “For Rob, who gave me Goatman and the courage to write about him”. It’s almost weird. (Not in a bad way, though). But there is a way to find out, and that’s to actually read the book and the “about the author” page at the end that most readers rarely even glance at. I’m

not going to tell you what it says, but I will tell you that after you read it you will see that she really, really wanted to write this book. (And did a dang good job at it too).

The story starts with Island. Not Hawaii, Madagascar, or Japan. Just simply Island. That is what it is called; in fact, everything has the most obvious name it could possibly have. Everyone that has a job is named after their job and the children that don’t have jobs are named after their parents’ job. (The last names, mind you, not the first). Even the veggies and animals, such as carrots and cows, are called orange stew roots and greater horned milk creatures (although some people do call them carrots and cows). Most of all, EVERYTHING has to have a defined use. There is no art, no colorful weavings, no fancy carvings; the list goes on and on and on. The things that are “useless”, according to the council, are burned and never discussed again. Sometimes they will even banish someone because they are unnameable and can’t help themselves from making nameless objects.

The main character in this book is Medford Runyuin, a boy that has a last name that doesn’t mean anything because he was washed ashore as a baby on a board and was adopted by Boyce Carver, a carver with a passion for carving things that need to be carved. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself)  Although he is raised as a carver (Medford, not Boyce), he keeps his name, and also grows some unfriendly nicknames, such as board baby. He doesn’t falter to break the rules and carve fancy things and hide them under his bed. His best friend is a girl named Prudy who is the only person that really understands Medford. They go to school with an absolutely evil teacher named Deemer Learned who makes everyone apprehensive. He narrates from the Book, a most certainly ancient journal that they are supposed to learn from. Everybody calls him old prune face behind his back until, much to his disdain, Deemer forces Prudy to become a learned and teach. Medford freaks out because she is totally different. She has respect for Deemer and she follows all the rules of the book.

Four months after this, Medford is now living in his own house. If it weren’t for his carvings he would be a recluse. (And he’s only fourteen). Then KABLOOEY!!  

A weird talking dude with a beard, horns, a dog, an unsightly appetite for napkins, and the most pungent odor in this universe and all universes in between. He is named Goatman. He is seemingly useless until he offers to help with the chores and makes a wonderful concoction that he calls a nut cake. Medford shows him the carvings he made and makes Goatman promise he won’t tell. Well, it slips out, and unfortunately, it’s to new Prudy. Of course, she goes to tell Deemer and they are put into jail to wait for the trial. They do a jailbreak and sneak to the archives. They learn some somber secrets and in the end it all works out.

I think this was a really good book. There were lots of “thee”s and “thou”s and “shant”s, but it wasn’t old fashioned. This was also a very hard book review to write because there are so many twists and turns. I would recommend this to anybody ages ten through high school.

Posted By: Fred Reads



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3 responses to “Review and Summary: The Unnameables

  1. Fred! I really enjoyed this review. As always, your writing is conversational and very fun to read.

    It is true that many people do not bother to look at anything before or after the actual storyline text of the book. Why do you think that is?

    This is something I havwe been thinking about lately. Do you think that there is something to gain or lose from reading the beginning pages (often times the dedications, table of contents, etc) and ending pages (often the glossary, idex, about the author, etc)? Furthermore, why do you think some things are listed before the book and some after?

    Great review! Happy Banned Books Week!!

    • Fred Reads

      As an answer to your first question, yes, and I think it is because readers are always in a hurry to finish a book (which I myself am sometimes guilty of) and don’t really take the time to enjoy the book. It’s reading for the sake of reading, which is sometimes good, sometimes not so good. If you enjoy a book, read it. If you Don’t like a book that you picked out, fine, return it and pick out a different one. I think sometimes people pick out a book because it’s huge and because it would make you look really smart and don’t like it. If you have to read a book for school, you either read it and like it, suck it up and read it, don’t read it and fail, or cheat and be guilty of it.
      As an answer to your second question, I think their sometimes is something to gain because people learn something and appreciate the book more. I don’t really know how to answer your third question.
      Oh, by the way, I’ll send you a list of all the books that I have in my lending library
      soon. I’m thinking of expanding to two walls of my bedroom instead of one.

  2. Thanks, Fred! I look forward to seeing the list!

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