Title: One Hundred Names
Author: Cecelia Ahern
No. of Pages: 496
Origins: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: 6 May 2014
Bottom Line: Pleasant story with a stunning message
“Scandal has derailed journalist Kitty Logan’s career, a setback that is soon compounded by an even more devastating loss. Constance, the woman who taught Kitty everything she knew, is dying. At her mentor’s bedside, Kitty asks her, “What is the one story you always wanted to write?”
The answer lies in a single sheet of paper buried in Constance’s office—a list of one hundred names—with no notes or explanation. But before Kitty can ask her friend, it is too late.
Determined to unlock the mystery and rebuild her own shaky confidence, Kitty throws herself into the investigation, tracking down each of the names on the list and uncovering their connection. Meeting these ordinary people and learning their stories, Kitty begins to piece together an unexpected portrait of Constance’s life . . . and starts to understand her own.”
Thoughts: The truly special element of One Hundred Names is not the story or the characters but its message. It is a simple message but oh-so powerful. In fact, its power lies directly alongside its simplicity, as it also serves as a proverbial slap in the face because of its humbleness. It is the type of message that is so obvious that we forget about it in the general hustle and bustle of everyday life, but Kitty’s discovery is the necessary reminder.
That is not to say the story itself or the characters are not enjoyable. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Kitty is not only dealing with the scandal of her life but also with the loss of her friend and mentor. While her metamorphosis is impressive to watch, it is the people on her list that add spice to the story. Similarly, the story gets its punch from Kitty’s detective work into this last story. Figuring out the connections between all one hundred and attempting to write this last article in honor of her friend’s death captures a reader’s interest. Some readers may figure out the connections early on but doing so ruins the surprise and its impact.
Ms. Ahern always writes well, focusing on her characters rather than using elaborate figurative language to paint the setting. She keeps her stories basic to let the characters shine. One Hundred Names is no different except for the added bonus that there are 100 characters to make things even more exciting for Kitty.
One Hundred Names is the type of story that deceives with its simple plot and eclectic cast. One does not expect the lasting impression and stunning message it contains. Kitty’s journey from scandal to redemption is fun and heartfelt, but it is her self-discoveries and her understanding of her mentor’s final lessons that move this beautiful novel from good to outstanding.