Book Review: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

Book: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

Published May 2017 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens|390 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

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.

I loved this book so much!  I was reading/finishing this one around the same time as Girl Made From Stars, and I was pretty emotional while reading this one.  Partly because I was still reeling from Girl Made From Stars, but also The Names They Gave Us is a pretty emotional book itself.

I felt so much for Lucy, and I think it’s because she reminded me of me a little bit.  Not the Christian doubting her faith part of it, but with how she felt about her mom’s cancer coming back.  Something about it made me think of grandma, especially the month or two before my grandma died.  While her mom is still alive at the end of the book, things are not looking good for her, and when I finished the book, I was hoping that her mom made it through.

Lucy is so hesitant to go to Daybreak at first, and I don’t blame her at all.  She does go, of course, and while I wasn’t surprised at Lucy’s journey, I was glad to be right there with her as got to know her campers, her fellow counselors and herself.

She learns a lot about her family as well, and even I didn’t see it coming, though certain things at the beginning of the book made a lot more sense once I had finished the book.  I really like seeing Lucy struggle with things, and how hard it was for her to fully deal with things, especially the family stuff we learn.  While it’s not completely resolved, I felt hopeful that things turned out fine for everyone.  It did end a little bit abruptly, and I was hoping for more closure, but at the same it kind of made sense for the book.  As much as I wanted more, at the same time, I’m also okay with wondering what happened next.

At first, I wasn’t sure about the religious aspects of the book.  I was expecting Lucy to be really into church and everything- she was, I think, and I do think she was genuinely sad about not being at her parent’s camp for the summer.  I’m glad she didn’t go in the complete opposite direction, and went on a downward spiral of ignoring and forgetting about her faith.  It was there, and while she struggled with her faith for quite a bit of the book, I was glad it was there.  It felt very inclusive somehow, and I know it might be off-putting for some people, but I thought it was done really well.

Lucy is compassionate, and I loved seeing her care about her campers and her counselors.  Daybreak was good for Lucy, and I think it really challenged her beliefs.  In a good way, of course, and she really does change for the better. She really felt like she belonged at Daybreak by the end of the book, and it’s clear she had a lot of admiration for what other people are going through, or have gone through.

I am so glad I read this book, and by the end of it, I was sobbing and hugging/clutching this book close to me.  I needed a couple minutes to get it out before I was able to actually put the book down and wipe away the tears.

5 stars.  I loved this book, and it’s another one I think everyone should read.

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