So who here has a weird name? Who here shares a name with a famous person? And who here has both? As in an odd name that is also the name of a well–known celebrity? I’m lucky that I have a fairly normal name though the same can’t be said for the protagonist in Terry Fallis’ latest novel, No Relation and many of the characters he encounters.
Earnest Hemmingway aka “Hem” whose name sounds a lot like a certain famous American writer, is a copywriter and aspiring novelist who recently has had a string of bad luck in his life on top of his chronic writers’ block. Unemployed and suddenly single, he finds he has a lot of free time and uses it to form a “support group” of sorts called “NameFame” for people like him meaning people who share a name with a famous person. As a result the reader gets introduced to many interesting and hilarious characters such as a hot tempered Indian man named Mahatma Gandhi who hands out butterscotch candy when apologizing for his sudden outbursts and Diana Ross, a woman who works for the NYPD, and who has an amazing voice but can only sing when drunk because she gets severe stage fright otherwise. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I loved this cast of well written, wacky supporting characters as the whole group is like a group of true companions who are always true for one another when they need it like when a bunch of members get together to devise the “Ernest Hemingway Exorcism World Tour” plan to help Hem get over his writer’s block. I fell in love with almost all the characters in the NameFame group and couldn’t help but root for them throughout the book.
Another thing I loved about this book was how it portrays family relationships as both complicated but importance influences in our lives. Hem is the heir to a major underwear company although he doesn’t want to take over as CEO. On the other hand his younger sister wants the job and seems like she’d be the best candidate for the job but because she isn’t the first born son her father refuses to acknowledge her as the best candidate to take over the family company. This is a major conflict in the book and I kind of liked how it played out in the end as the entire Hemmingway family realizes they need to do a better job of communicating with each other.
Terry Fallis does a good job of highlighting the challenges of sharing a moniker with a famous player. He makes you feel sorry for some of the characters at times but he also doesn’t take things to seriously and thus the readers can see that despite a few extreme situations the characters themselves aren’t afraid to poke fun at themselves because of their names. The only thing I wasn’t really a fan of was how it kind of seemed like all the characters in the NameFame group were paired off by the end which felt a little bit unrealistic and convenient though I get that it plays into the idea of tying up all loose ends by the book’s conclusion.
This was an amazing book that I adored because it had me chuckling throughout. I would recommend No Relation to anyone looking for a fun Canadian book to read.
If you like this book, you’ll love: Up and Down by Terry Fallis
Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.