Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

Names They Gave Us

by Emery Lord

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.

Reviewed by whisperingchapters on

5 of 5 stars

This review was originally posted on Latte Nights Reviews.

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.

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Reading updates

  • Started reading
  • 7 May, 2017: Finished reading
  • 7 May, 2017: Reviewed