Thursday, June 1, 2017

Review: The Names They Gave Us

The Names They Gave Us
By Emery Lord
Published: May 16, 2017

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.

My review:

Lucy's life changes on prom night when she inadvertently finds out that her mom's cancer is back. On top of that, she has to spend the summer as a counselor at a "hippie" camp that is very different from the comforting familiar Bible camp she has worked at in past summers. Lucy doesn't want to leave her mom while she is sick and she is dreading her new job but then she realizes that there is more to the camp than she thought and maybe it's exactly where she needs to be.

I wasn't sure what to expect from a book with a Christian teen protagonist but I thought it worked. Lucy reminded me a little of myself as a teen as I grew up in an evangelical conservative Christian family. I also liked the portrayal of Lucy's struggle with her faith. I do think Lucy's parents were way more understanding and open minded than the adults around me during my teen years.

I was glad to see Lucy grow and change through her experience at Camp Daybreak. She was naive and a little judgmental (but not as judgmental as I thought she'd be) and I think being at this camp challenged her in many ways. I think it helped her to interact with kids from difficult home situations or who had many struggles in their young lives. Lucy becomes a more confident person and she is able to help the kids in her cabin.

There was a lot going on in this book. Aside from Lucy's story line there are also the various issues with some of the campers and Lucy's fellow counselors such as teen pregnancy, abuse and bullying. I did like the secondary characters, especially Anna who is a great new friend for Lucy. There is also some romance between Lucy and Jones, another counselor. Jones is a great guy and I liked how their relationship grew. 

I did have a few small issues with the book. I felt like there wasn't closure at the end--I wanted to know what happened. Also I thought the big secret wasn't really wrapped up well because other things took precedence. Overall I liked this book. Emery Lord is one of my favorite YA contemporary authors. I like how her stories are about so much more than teen romance. It is story about faith and family and relationships. I also liked that the characters were more diverse and I loved the relationship Lucy has with her parents. 

Note: I received an ARC for review purpose courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley


  1. I had issues with the ending as well. This one was probably my least favorite of her novels, but I thought she handled the serious issues of cancer as well as religion very well. I also enjoyed Lucy's relationship with her parents. Lord always portrays interesting relationships with adults in her novels...I always appreciate that. Great review, Christina!

  2. I also thought the ending could have been stronger, but from judging her father's reaction it wasn't going to be happy. I thought she did well in talking about serious issues particularly religion without being heavy handed. I'm also very happy that this book was much more diverse than her other ones.


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