I received this book for free from Publisher at ALA Midwinter in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on May 16th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
Source: Publisher at ALA Midwinter
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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?
Emery Lord is one of my favorite authors, hands down. She has such a way with characters and stories that I find so compelling, making her books an auto-read. When I first read the blurb for The Names They Gave Us, I admittedly groaned with dismay instead of jumping with glee. Why? I usually avoid books with religious themes, afraid they may come off preachy. I was admittedly worried the book wouldn’t be for me but decided to give it a chance anyways because again, Emery Lord, and I’m so very thankful I did because the book was an absolute delight!
Lucy is the daughter of a Pastor. Religion and faith are a huge part of her life in every way. But when her mother’s cancer returns Lucy’s faith waivers and sets her on a path of self-discovery. Her boyfriend ‘pauses’ their relationship and she goes to to work at a summer camp away from her parents for the first time. A lot is happening to Lucy all at once and it is a lot for her to process. I found her voice to be exceptional. Even though she isn’t the type of character I relate to on a religious capacity, I still found her very relatable in so many other ways and had no problems connecting with her. I loved the diverse group of friends to she makes at camp and I love how she was able to break out of her shell and comfort zone as she discovers so much more about the world than she knew before. I adored these new friends and I adored the new romance that develop between Lucy and Henry. Relationships are a huge part of this novel and none compared to the bond Lucy shared with her mother. Lucy’s dedication to her was sincere and there were so many little moments between the two sprinkled in that warmed my heart and broke it all at once.
The Names They Gave Us was one of those reads that I truly enjoyed as I read but it wasn’t until I finished the last page that I realized the pure impact it had on me and I was left an emotional mess. If you are wavering on this one because of the religious elements, please don’t let that turn you away. I am so very thankful I didn’t let it deter me because this journey was worth all the smiles and tears.