[Book Review #88] The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

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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.

Book Specifications:

Author: Emery Lord

Format: Hardcover

Part of a Series: No. Standalone.

Release Date: May 16, 2017

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

No. of Pages: 384 pages

Price: Php987.00

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Family, Romance

Book Review:

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Last year, I was introduced to Emery Lord’s extremely creative and impressive writing style in When We Collided. I didn’t post a review for it at the time, because I was on my first week at the office when I read it, but I loved every single page of it. This year, readers are blessed with yet another masterpiece from Emery in The Names They Gave Us. I buddy read this new release with my good friend Hazel from Stay Bookish, and we both loved it for similar reasons. Today, I’m excited to share with you guys my review for this newest novel.

I picked up this book knowing only a couple of details about it. I’ve heard tons of great praises for it over on Twitter, and since I know Hazel loves Emery’s books (I 100% trust her book choices, by the way), I felt this incessant need to grab a copy for myself.

What I loved most about this new book from Emery Lord is that it’s not just all about romance, family, and friendship. For years now, I’ve been reading tons of contemporaries about these themes, and with The Names They Gave Us, Emery gives us a well-blended mix of just about everything I’ve mentioned. It focuses greatly on the importance of close family ties, while balancing a life with friends, and a subtle serving of romance on the side. To add to that, the use of religion to tell Lucy Hansson’s story was extremely relatable, especially to all those who follow religious traditions. Personally, I had an easy time rooting for and loving Lucy because of this, since I’m a devout Catholic myself. Seeing all of Lucy’s casual prayers gave me the humor I felt this book needed.

Another aspect that I adored about this book is Lucy’s impeccable character development. As readers are first introduced to our MC, we meet a character who has pretty much a considerably perfect life. She was then put into life-changing circumstances which caused her to toughen up, and realize that there’s more to life than just being religious and settling for what one feels is sufficient. Lucy’s character development was definitely fun to watch, and I had a great time watching her grow. I honestly believe that since I was greatly hooked by this aspect, I found the story’s pacing quite fast, allowing for me to read this in three days (which isn’t a normal for someone who reads as slow as me).

I also adored most (if not all) of the side characters, as well as the friendship dynamic between Jones, Keely, Anna, and Tambe. Seeing how closely bonded everyone is at Daybreak reminded me of how sometimes, it’s very hard to try and fit in or stand out in a place where everyone already knew everyone. In this case, I can definitely feel how hard it must have been for Lucy to try and get to know the people from the camp. But, as it was evident, it’s ultimately satisfying to be a part of something as solid as their squad. And the kids! Oh, good heavens, aren’t they adorable! As I’ve mentioned to Hazel, I have soft spots for all those children, especially Thuy, JJ, and Nevea. I would’ve wanted more backstory for them, but I guess that’s a matter for a different book (I hope).

Last, but certainly not the least, I was moved by the mother-daughter dynamic between Lucy and Marianne. Albeit they didn’t always see eye to eye, especially during the first few chapters of the book, I found their relationship very touching and genuine. Also, I’m just a sucker for the “sick parents” YA trope, so it came as no surprise to me to be shedding tears without even being halfway through with the story. I felt the emotion Lucy was emanating which, in turn, also caused me to just cry my eyes out. I never want to have to deal with my parents being sick, so I definitely would want to give Lucy credit for being a strong and independent young woman.

“With all things considered, I feel like The Names They Gave Us has the makings of a bestselling contemporary novel. It tackles friendship, family ties, and romance in a very subtle way. It talks about social themes like teenage pregnancy, transphobia, and other sensitive topics. And lastly, it has little twists that would cause readers to appreciate the story even more, and overall, I feel like a lot of readers might relate to Lucy and her story.”

Check out Hazel’s review for this book here.

RATING:

Characters – 5.00

Plot – 4.50

Writing Style – 4.00

Pacing – 4.00

Ending – 3.00

TOTAL –  4.1 / 4 ★

Quotable Quotes:

“The world moves twice as fast. Or twice as slow. It’s hard to tell when it feels like you’re watching your own life instead of living it.”

“And I say a final last prayer, this one in gratitude that there are people in the world who will protect kids with a fire that makes them sprint after cars, fight systems, curse with rage. It’s enough to make you believe. Maybe not in symbols; maybe not in gods. But certainly in people.”

“Hasn’t Daybreak shown me, day after day, that people can outlast unbelievable pain? That human hearts are like noble little ants, able to carry so much more weight than you’d expect.”

About The Author:

Emery Lord is the author of 4 novels about teenage girls: Open Road Summer, The Start of Me & You, When We Collided, and The Names They Gave Us. She was born near a harbor on the East coast and raised near a beach, an ocean, a great lake, and the Ohio River. She’s a longtime Cincinnatian, where people love good beer, good music, and their public library. 

She’s married to a scientist who shuts down every wedding dance floor, and they are owned by two rescue dogs.

She believes in the magic of storytelling, Ferris wheels, and you.

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