Review: The Names They Gave Us (Emery Lord)

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Publication date: June 1st, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Malaysia
Page Count: 380

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From acclaimed author Emery Lord comes a vibrant, compelling story of love, loss, faith, and friendship.

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?

Emotionally-charged and unforgettable, Emery Lord’s storytelling shines with the promise of new love and true friendship, even in the face of life’s biggest challenges.

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The Names They Gave Us is my first Emery Lord book. I’ve heard great reviews for her previous books and thought it’s about time I try her writing. And I’m glad I did! Her writing is impeccable. I don’t read many YA Contemporaries, but Lord is fast becoming one of my favourite contemporary writers.

This book had the right amount of raw emotions, friendships, summer breezes and wonderful camp stories!

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The Names They Gave Us is about Lucy Hansson who happens to be a pastor’s daughter. Growing up surrounded by church and religion are what makes her Lucy. But the summer of her 17th year changes her perspective on what is to truly believe and have faith in God. With her mom’s cancer returning causing inevitable pain to her and her whole family, Lucy begins to lose faith in God and doesn’t really know where to grip in terms of being herself and a daughter.

This book had so many emotions that I cannot help but to shed some tears, multiple times, throughout the entire book. It dealt with some serious stuff when it came to mother-daughter relationships. I mean, I’m warning you. Prepare to shed some tears as you’re reading this. Because you will. Reading of Lucy’s fears in losing her mom will strike a deep chord within you. And it makes you think of the possibility and pain in losing a parent.

“You can be okay again. Just a different kind of okay than before.”

Even though cancer is a huge back story to The Names They Gave Us, I’m glad it didn’t dominate Lucy’s entire story. The best part remains the fact that she joins Daybreak, a healing camp for children with troubling pasts, and forges the most unforgettable friendships there. Not only with the little campers who have led such traumatic lives, but also with the camp counselors that eventually became her source of support. And they help her out to see life beyond her mother’s illness and live the life she’s happy with.

“And I want to be one of them. I want to be one of them so, so badly – to fit into this balance, their history, the wolf pack way of them. I see it now, why my mom wants that for me. I see how you can’t help but want it, if you get close enough to witness a group of friends knitted together like this.” 

This summer became the summer Lucy found new strength within her, to change and move on from something that was holding her, and to accept her mom’s condition with newfound believe. And I’ve always loved characters that have wonderful development throughout the book. Lucy’s character development is definitely one of my favourites to read.

“Whose empire did you just overthrow?”
“My own.” 

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The characters in this book were so much fun to read and they brought so much backstory that each person was relatable in a way. Lucy’s counselor friends at Daybreak are what made the whole book great to read. You’ve got a wonderful mix of funny, serious, sass and bravery in all 5 of them, including Lucy. And these are the friends who helps her out, the kind of friends you want by side when you’re going through the good and the bad times. I am endlessly amazed at how well Emery Lord writes about family and friendship dynamics. 

I love Lucy’s character development in this book. She starts out as this naive Christian girl who has only ever known the church as her way of life. Coming to Daybreak changed her perspective of the people surrounding her, and the lives they’re living. She grows so much in this book, from the way she accepts people, to the way she accepts herself and her fluctuating faith.

I guess that’s what I found most interesting about Lucy, her faith. It was realistic to see a seventeen-year-old struggling to believe in a God she once had no problem leaning on once her mom’s cancer returns. Even as a Muslim I struggle sometimes to keep my faith in check. Whilst I am spiritual, I don’t consider myself religious beyond the basics. And Lucy was a character I was fond of. Because we all slip and fall when it comes to our religious views.

And reading of her journey to change and grow as time passes was something so refreshing. Because I don’t know any teenager who was so sure of herself that she didn’t change as she was growing up. Who didn’t fail at relationships because they grew out of it and who didn’t lose touch with friends because life happens. A book so well written like this should be read by every teenager still trying to find the balance between entering adulthood and wanting to remain a child.

“Well, you change as you get older, especially at this time in your life. You become more yourself, hopefully. And sometimes that changes the dynamic, even with people you love. So it’s not that you were wrong. You were right for that time. But you grow up and you grow out of relationships. Even the ones you thought, at one point, might be forever.” 

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Overall, this has become one of my favourite YA contemporaries. And I’d recommend this to anyone who wants a serious yet heart-warming read of a teenager trying to find sense in a world that she once was so sure of.

Have you read this book? If you have do let me know in the comment section what you thought of it!

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Thank you Pansing Malaysia for providing me a copy in exchange of an honest review!


3 thoughts on “Review: The Names They Gave Us (Emery Lord)

    • BookLoves_ Reviews says:

      I will definitely look out for it Mals! Looking forward to reading her books when I’m in the mood for contemporaries 😀


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