I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on May 16th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Death & Dying, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Religious, Young Adult
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When it all falls apart, who can you believe in?
Everything is going right for Lucy Hansson, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with all the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job.
Instead, Lucy lands at a camp for kids who have been through tough times. As a counselor, Lucy is in over her head and longs to be with her parents across the lake. But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers, who are as loving and unafraid as she so desperately wants to be.
It’s not just new friends that Lucy discovers at camp—more than one old secret is revealed along the way. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized.
What can I say that hasn’t already been said about Emery Lord? That she’s a wizard when it comes to writing authentic and meaningful friendships. She’s mastered the art of developing a swoony romance. Her ability to develop complex and beautiful family bonds is second to none. She knows how to write a story that gets to the emotional core of what it means to be a teenager. But…you guys know all this. If you’ve read even one of her books (I suggest you read ALL of them), then you know what an amazing author Emery is and can understand why I include her on my list of all-time faves. With the release of her fourth novel (in only three years!!), she’s managed to make me love her (and her story-telling) even more than I already did.
Out of all the books that Lord has written, “The Names They Gave Us” is the one I connected with the most. The story of Lucy and her journey of self-discovery may have taken a VERY different path than my own, but there were some amazing similarities that allowed me to connect with her as a character. I grew up as a minister’s daughter and the portrayal of Lucy’s experience as a PK (preacher’s kid) is spot on. Even down to the small details. In one scene we learn that Lucy’s father writes his sermons on legal pads and that one little detail resonated with me so deeply. It’s so amazing that little things like that can connect you to a story so deeply. One of my most vivid memories of growing up was watching my father work on his sermons in his office or on the living room couch, flipping through pages and pages of his legal pad. After he passed away and I was going through his belongings, I made sure to hang on to each and every scrap of paper I could find.
This is my long, drawn out way of explaining how amazing Lord is at taking those small details and turning them into something beautiful. She has this innate magic in taking quiet moments and making them incredibly special and there are so many of those moments in “The Names They Gave Us”. The developing friendships and romance in this book are filled with small but incredibly meaningful experiences that all weave together beautifully to develop into a life-changing summer for Lucy.
The struggle and heart-wrenching pain of watching a parent suffer through a debilitating diagnosis is handled with such grace in this book. The emotions, the highs and lows, all resonated with me so deeply. And even though I haven’t had a parent with a terminal illness, I did lose my father suddenly and so many of the emotions are the same. Facing a parent’s immortality is a life-altering experience and so much of what Lucy felt and thought was so familiar to me. I commend Lord for getting this book SO right. This passage from the book in particular beautifully sums up its message.
“You can be okay again. Just a different kind of okay than before.” – The NAMES THEY GAVE US BY EMERY LORD
I also want to also briefly talk about how beautifully diverse and inclusive this story is. It was so refreshing to see a group of friends that are representative of the experiences I had in high school and continue to have throughout my adult life. Friendships are made up of different people from different walks of life coming together to support and lift each other up. I love how perfectly right Lord got that in this book.
I have SO many things I want to tell you about this book, but I really believe you would be best served by reading it yourself. It’s emotional, hopeful, uplifting and poignant…with a lot of swoon and Summer fun thrown in for good measure.