From the acclaimed author of When We Collided 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 and spending quality time with her parents. But when her mom's cancer reappears, Lucy falters--in her faith 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.
- ISBN10 1408877813
- ISBN13 9781408877814
- Publish Date 1 June 2017 (first published 16 May 2017)
- Publish Status Active
- Publish Country GB
- Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
- Imprint Bloomsbury Childrens Books
- Format Paperback
- Pages 400
- Language English
This is my first Emery Lord book, and I can say, I now understand why people love her books so much.
I have heard some people saying that they are leery of this book because it has a religious aspect, however, religion was not the crux of this book. Lucy was a preacher's kid, so her faith was part of who she was. She suffered a crisis of faith when her mother's cancer returned, but it was not just her belief in God that she was questioning, but rather, she was questioning everything she thought was true. She became sort of untethered when the foundation of her world began to crumble, and I would say her flagging faith was just a part of her coming of age.
There was so much to love about this book. Lucy, her family, her camp friends, the romance -- I was just won over by the entire book. Cancer books have been difficult for me since my father's diagnosis, and his up and down battle with lung cancer, but I thought Lord was very thoughtful with her portrayal, and it was also very realistic.
So, I adored this book, yet I docked it half a star. Why? Because I struggle a little with the ending. A lot of HUGE things were revealed at the end, and I remember, I kept looking at how much was left to read, and I could not imagine this being wrapped up in so few pages. Well, I was right, and I was left with one of those dreaded open-ended type endings. Although I totally understood that this was Lucy's story and it was her coming of age, I just was perturbed that Lord left a particular storyline in that state. You can't just write a character, make me care about them, and then leave me hanging at the end. It's just not right.
Overall: A beautiful coming of age story, which was sweet, poignant, and sometimes, quite painful.
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Daybreak is a summer program for children and teens enduring grief, displacement and despite Lucy's reluctance, she accepts the position of counselor to satisfy her mother. The Names They Gave Us explores adolescence grief and acceptance. Lucy's mother is breast cancer survivor although in the summer of Lucy's senior year, her mother is rediagnosed and scheduled for surgery.
Lucy begins to challenge her Christian ideology, an aspect of the narrative I found fascinating. Lucy is a compassionate humanitarian but her ideology often leads to the judgement of others, including a pregnant young lady seeking guidance. Lucy's character encounters a diverse and wonderful company of counselors who have all experienced trauma or loss throughout their young lives. In particular gentle Anna and the magnificent Henry. The delicate romance between Lucy and Henry was captivating. Daybreak is a positive and maternal environment and the counselors all share a wonderfully affirming perspective.
Although Christianity and illness are components of Lucy's narrative, The essence of The Names They Gave Us is compassion. Through her interactions with fellow councilors, Lucy experiences a sense of belonging and immeasurable admiration, now accepting of new experiences guided by the group of diverse, young individuals. African American adolescents, transgender, exploring sexuality, displacement, socioeconomics, race, religion, anxiety, grief, adoption and illness. Both children and councilors were wonderfully representative of our diverse communities.
Unfortunately it ended rather abruptly and I needed closure.
Emery Lord is a prolific contemporary author, creating socially conscious characters with compassion and consideration. The Names They Gave Us is marvelously delightful, beautifully written and enchanting.
I read my first Emery Lord book in summer of 2015 and I fell hard for her writing and her characters (and the book cover). I don't know why I haven't read any of her other novels, even though I have them on my Kindle. It's safe to say that after reading The Names They Gave Us, I will be reading her other books, especially during this summer season!
[...] I hope for strength. Because as much as I want to be the one crying, I want to be the kind of person someone can hold onto.
Lucy cannot wait for summer. I mean, which teen doesn't, right? She can't wait to be a counselor at Bible camp, be near her family and boyfriend. What Lucy doesn't expect is for her mom's cancer to come back. When it does, Lucy's world stumbles. Lucy's mom wants Lucy to have a good summer so she tells her to go be a counselor at another camp nearby, a camp that is for kids who haven't had an easy life, either by experiencing loss, not having enough care at home, etc. Lucy is dead-set on not going and being with her mom, but her mom throws in the cancer card and tells her that it will make her happy so Lucy agrees to go. The camp isn't what Lucy thought it would be. She ended up making friends and caring for all of her little campers. What she didn't expect was to have so much in common with the campers, but she never shared the why until all of the secrets came to light.
Being a Christian believer, it caught my attention that this book had a religious aspect to it. I was expecting for the book to be degrading to Christians or maybe being overbearing with a load of Christian stuff, but it actually wasn't any of those! Emery Lord handled EVERYTHING with so much respect and grace. Even though Lucy is a pastor's daughter, when cancer hit her family, her faith started to stumble and she ended up having her own beliefs and questioning everything. I related to Lucy in that aspect. Sometimes I question everything when things don't go my way, but like Lucy, I'm learning to let go and let God handle my struggles. Honestly, this aspect was done brilliant and I don't think anybody would be offended by this topic.
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.
Let's talk about the amazing group of friends that Lucy made at camp. Each character brought something unique to the story with their own personality. Not only that, they were all so inspiring! They are all dealing with a sad past—loss, anxiety, abuse—but they've learned to move on in healthy ways. It really served as a great way for Lucy to deal with her mom's cancer, even when they don't know it. I loved that they had nights where they would get together and share their highs and lows of their week. They would be extremely open and raw about their lows, which was something I really loved. It shows that they trusted one another to help or give advice on their struggles. And let's not forget about the cute friendship-to-romance between Lucy and Henry *insert a lot of heart eyes emojis*. I loved that Henry didn't fix Lucy and make her be okay with her mom's cancer. Not at all. He was simply there for her when she needed it and served as a guide and a true friend in her healing.
I totally loved the mom! I mean, she did put on a strong front for Lucy, which I wish she hadn't so we could see her be more vulnerable. But despite having cancer, she had a great humor. It was weird because she's throwing these cancer jokes that left me horrified but ended up laughing at just because of how she said them and how carefree she was about saying them.
The ending left me a tiny bit hanging. I guess I wanted a bigger resolution to everything than what I got, but that's just me. I love when a book gives me closure of everything and I felt like I needed closure in some areas. That's pretty much my only complain since I loved and adored everything about this book.
What I love of Emery Lord's writing is the fact that she manages to balance everything: swoon moments, funny moments, sad moments, family moments, friendship moments, etc. One never overshadows the other and each one has their own spotlight and it makes for a feel-good story that stays with you long after you read it. It truly is an emotional roller coaster, but it's a ride you won't want to get out of. The Names They Gave Us is a beautifully written story with flawed yet wonderful characters that warm your heart. It's such a lovely story that I couldn't get enough of.
I received an ARC from the publisher via mail for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.This review was originally posted on Latte Nights Reviews.