It’s been such a struggle to put together a coherent review of this book. I fell in love with Lord’s When We Collided, so I didn’t have any doubts about how brilliant The Names They Gave Us would be, but wow. It blew me away. I needed this book 10 years ago, but I’m so glad I have it in my hands now.
Title: The Names They Gave Us
Author: Emery Lord
Release date: May 16, 2017
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Length: 400 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) “Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters—in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp—one for troubled kids—Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?”
I loved this book from the get-go. I’m pretty hesitant when books mention something about Christianity. It seemed like faith played a pretty large part with the character, but then I read “Bible camp” and all these memories of be working at a summer Bible camp brought back such memories–some I won’t forget and some I still want to. And then there’s the faltering bit, because oh boy, did I falter a lot in my faith when I was the main character’s age. I knew I needed this book. It was calling me, I swear it.
Have you ever read a book you loved so much you wanted to read it quickly in order to see what happens, but you wanted to savor every single page? That was me with this book. I loved every single moment of this book. I cried, but I still so satisfied when I finished it, I set it on my lap and patted it a while, held it close while the words filled my heart.
Lucy is a good kid with a good family. Her father’s a pastor and her mother works at an elementary school as a nurse. Her boyfriend, Lucas, isn’t so bad either, and he’s not even as the story progresses. Lucy is all set to work at summer camp when her mother’s cancer returns. Lucy thought she had everything in place and planned, but when her mother asks her to do work at a different camp, a camp catering to troubled kids, Lucy does hesitate but she also agrees even if she’s not 100% on board.
Boy, I’m glad she said yes. I loved following Lucy on her journey. Not only does she discover more about herself, but she gains such an amazing group of fellow counselor friends. They’re all unique, with their own struggles, and they open Lucy’s eyes to a variety of things she’s never given much thought to before now. She also learns to be herself and what that truly means. She opens her heart to people she most likely would have never approached if it weren’t for being thrown together in this situation. Now that, I can relate to. Sometimes when you’re forced to live with other people, you form unique and often unbreakable bonds you wouldn’t have formed otherwise. This was true for Lucy.
I loved every character, too–from the camp counselors to Lucy’s parents. Each have their own story to tell, and Lord does a fantastic job pulling on all those heartstrings and telling an amazing story. Her character are so well-developed, and I find that this book, along with When We Collided are both so character-centered. Yes, there’s the plot, but the plot is what pushes the character forward, it drives the character to the exact spot they need to be, and we follow right along with them. We see so many characters’ vulnerabilities, not only teens’ but childrens’ and adults’. It was amazing and refreshing to see such a strong group of friends and family members.
Lucy’s journey was amazing, not only with her friends and family, but also with her faith. It is such an important aspect in her life, and I’m glad my predictions didn’t come true. I’m glad Lucy held on, even when things became horrible, even when she didn’t believe God listened to her, she tried anyway. She admitted it was hard, but she still pushed through.