I could not stop reading this and was often reminded of what I always liked about The Bonfire of the Vanities how several well crafted New York stories are fitted tightly together into one narrative to pack a dramatic and memorable punch The writing was strong the ideas were hefty the characters felt real and there was emotional weight that kept momentum from beginning to end I finished They Could Have Called Her Anything in almost no time, and I d definitely like to see from this author. Racism, class, and betrayal collide in this poignant debut novel about restoring the broken bonds of family and friendshipEvery morning, seventeen year old Maria Ans 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 studentsuntil 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, its a dazzling privilegeAs a bond develops between these unlikely friends, neither can see what they share mostjealousy and the desire for each others 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 consequencesTold 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 youve been given and the rewarding discovery of what really matters I appreciated a lot of this book and could tell she was part Puerto Rican at least early on I understand what it is like to have two parents who speak different dialects of the same language and how that can affect the child s learning of it I was shocked with how little she claimed to speak though as a character Those details were great Part way through the book things shifted and while I hoped the author wouldn t go the path that was taken, I figured it would end that way I m sorry to say it went to super unrealistic at many times with the main character reacting in ways that seemed really out of left field How she dealr with her boyfriend for example was odd to me The ending was rushed and weak as well. They Could Have Named Her Anything is a beautifully perceptive novel about two families one working class, the other wealthy set in and around an elite NYC school Through Maria, a Latinx scholarship student, and Rocky, her white, wealthy friend, Jimenez writes with honesty, compassion, and wit about the challenges of adolescence, the desire to belong, and the ways race and class complicate both This is a complex and satisfying novel with characters you can t help but fall in love with and root for right up to its powerful ending. This was my first First Reads and I m just trying to figure out what I just read I could not tell you for the life of me what this book was about Maria was a weird protagonist, it felt like she was just doing things for no particular reason at all just moving from scene to even as the book calls for it Why was she still dating and sleeping with Andres if he despised her so much He literally broke up with her while fingering her because according to him she had the deadest coochie in the world Why was she all hot and bothered for Rocky s dad but as soon as she finally got in bed with him she acted almost as if he was raping her I m just not sure what this book was supposed to be about or what I was supposed to take away from the story Like i can t tell you why any of the things in this book happened or what it all means in the long run I guess I was just bored and because there was no real story it was hard to look forward to the next scene. THEY COULD HAVE NAMED HER ANYTHING is about a girl coming into her own power and also about the limited types of power our society allows young women to wield, especially young women who don t happen to be thin or white or wealthy Reading it made me nostalgic for my own girlhood and also so glad I never have to relive the tumult of my teenage years again.Maria Rosario is such a compelling protagonist endearing, exhilarating, frustrating, strong vulnerable, and above all real I felt deeply protective of her as I was reading, but also certain she was going to be just fine in the end Stephanie Jimenez is one of those skillful, subtle authors who can render everyday life just as dramatic and compelling as an action packed thriller because of all the seismic emotional shifts happening under the surface for her characters I adored this book, and I can t wait to see what she writes next A compelling tale of race and class and culture, as two girls from a private school Maria, on scholarship, and Rocky, the freewheeling, free spender become friends Their families will collide in gripping ways Achingly memorable. I wanted to like this book , and I will say that it kept my interest enough to want to finish it However, I nicknamed it my mediocre book because it was the most apt description to me The ideas themes surrounding social class, wealth, education, family relationships, gender, and the adolescent female experience were all present, and they were touched on enough to make me think a little However, this alone could not overcome the less than impressive writing.At times I felt like the author is perhaps a poet who tried to write a novel, but the genres collided instead of blended There are some passages that are beautiful and descriptive, but they are disjointed from the rest of the story This same sense of jumping around was consistent in all of the writing There is a way to successfully jump ahead in a narrative without over explaining with excessive prepositions, etc., but this book did not do that There are gaps throughout the storyline that left me furrowing my brow and backtracking to figure out how we got to that spot It felt like blank spaces in time and or character, which left the feeling of choppiness Spoiler alert For example, at one point one of the characters apparently falls or is knocked off a balcony to the flowerbed below, but there is no indication of what may or may not have happened, only that the main character turned her gaze down to the Summer Carnival hollyhock beds, where Rocky s limp body reposed Most troublesome were the strange conversations between the girls they were not fleshed out and seemed quite unrealistic to me Again, choppy and unclear and, therefore, frustrating.About halfway through I began wondering if perhaps the problem was a result of poor editing instead of mediocre writing, but there is no way to really know.The climax happened very quickly near the very end of the book and became blatantly obvious and predictable within a page, so it felt sort of anticlimactic The end was plausible enough I guess, but not overly satisfying As far as debut novels go, this was fine, but I would not really recommend it. Well written, but the protagonist, Maria, is pretty awful Maybe she s representative of teenagers, but she s selfish and opportunistic without any redeeming traits I hope the author didn t intend for anybody to actually root for her The fathers are equally distasteful, and the storyline between Maria and Charlie is cringe worthy Rocky was probably the most palatable of the main characters, and even that s a stretch In a nutshell, I would describe this book as unbearable. I intensely disliked this book Both characters were selfish bitches It was never clear why the two girls started having out together in the first place Throw in the awfulness of the father and I didn t even want to finish it The author seems compelled to throw in references about the characters appearances that were superfluous and in some cases disgusting For instance, There was a dribble of encrusted saliva at the corner of her lip Descriptions like that don t make it good writing I didn t like the writing, the story, or the characters.