The Meaning of Names

A Novel

Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Meaning of Names
"Set in 1918 in the farm country at the heart of America, The Meaning of Names is the story of an ordinary woman trying to raise a family during extraordinary times. Estranged from her parents because she married against their will, confronted with violence and prejudice against her people, and caught up in the midst of the worst plague the world has ever seen, Gerda Vogel, an American of German descent, must find the strength to keep her family safe from the effects of a war that threatened to consume the whole world. The Meaning of Names re-creates a world gone by that speaks eloquently to modern day issues" -- Provided by publisher.

Publisher: Pasadena, CA :, Red Hen Press,, [2014]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781597099592
Branch Call Number: FICTION Shoemaker 2014
Characteristics: 219 pages ; 22 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Sep 04, 2014

This biographical novel centers around Gerda Vogel and her family, both the family into which she was born and the family she creates with her husband Fritz. Set in Nebraska in 1918 and 1919, the story illustrates the ways in which World War I and the influenza pandemic impacted life on the Great Plains.

Ms. Shoemaker crafts very compelling characters, and as a lifelong resident of Nebraska, I was quickly drawn into their world. As someone of German heritage, the fear and hatred of Germans caused by the War was especially unsettling. Don't be fooled by the novel's length; the text and imagery packed into the 220 pages is dense (in a very good way).

I enjoyed everything about the novel except the ending which wrapped up too neatly for my taste. However, since the author based Gerda and Fritz on her grandparents, it's good the book followed their life story.

Aug 11, 2014
  • gwasdin rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

The Meaning of Names was just announces as the 2014 Omaha Reads title! Join us in a community conversation about the novel, and meet the author in September!


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add a Notice

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Find it at OPL


Explore Further

Browse the Shelf

Subject Headings