Title: The Names They Gave Us
Author: Emery Lord
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.
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.
This was my first Emery Lord book, and now I’m filled with an overwhelming urge to go forth and binge on everything she’s ever written.
So there’s that.
I’ll be 100% honest, I was extremely unsure about this book in the beginning. I personally am not religious at all, so when I saw just how much Lucy’s faith made up her character, I got a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to relate to her at all. I was wrong. Extremely wrong.
I was able to find myself in Lucy from the moment that she was told her mother was sick again. Unless you’ve experienced something like that, there are no words to describe the feeling of your entire world falling apart around you. It truly feels like someone has somehow grabbed the Earth out from beneath your feet and you’re just falling. Unfortunately, I know this feeling well, and I remember the day that doctors told me that my mother’s heart was failing. I remember leaving the hospital one night, only to get a call early the next morning that I needed to come back immediately because they were taking my mom to surgery within the hour. I remember crying on the drive there while my boyfriend navigated streets that were a sheet of ice, bad enough to shut down local schools. I remember all of these horrible things, but I also remember the little moments of hope, the good things. I remember the first time we were told that my mom’s heart was actually improving. I remember my mom’s favorite nurse, who did whatever he could to make sure that we were okay. I remember looking over at my boyfriend when he was sliding around the road, trying to get us to my mom, and thinking “wow, I want to marry this man” (spoiler alert: I did).
It was because of those highs and lows that I was able to find myself in Lucy, despite the fact that we were polar opposites on paper. Watching Lucy experience both despair and hope was amazing, and almost felt like a healing process for me as well. You truly get to see Lucy grow throughout the course of this story. You watch her mind (and heart) open up to so many new possibilities. She learns to love and accept people from all walks of life, people she would have swiftly dismissed before. Most of all, you get to see Lucy learn that the world, not to mention her faith, isn’t black and white. Watching her delve into those shades of grey felt so authentic that I almost felt like Lucy was a real person, someone I had just spent the summer with.
The Names They Gave Us is more than just the heart wrenching tale that many will say it is. It’s a story of hope, a story of love, and a story of finding yourself. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars, and I highly recommend it to everyone. Tonight, I’m headed to my mom’s house so I can use her TV for a while, and I think I might just recommend this one to her.