Book Review: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

Posted April 19, 2017 by Alexia in book review / 4 Comments

Book Review: The Names They Gave Us by Emery LordThe Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
Published by Bloomsbury on May 16th, 2017
Genres: contemporary
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

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?

Oh my goodness, I don’t even know how I am going to put into words the amazing-ness of this book. It was pure Emery Lord. I honestly don’t think she can write a bad book. Each of her books have held something different and this one was no different or any less special. In fact, in some ways this one might have been the most special of all of her books.

By now most you probably know that I’m am atheist, so I was uncomfortable & worried about this book being “too preachy” or “overly religious” because I have had such awful luck with religion themed books. So I was super worried. But Emery Lord crafted a book & characters within the book where faith is a pretty prominent theme, but its not preachy or overly religious and that was super important to me. I never should have doubted Emery Lord’s ability to do this.

I loved the characters in this book, and the diversity really was top notch and I started falling for all of them pretty early on. Especially with the introduction of First Week Cookies. These cookies are chocolate chunks, some kind of nut, oatmeal & potato chips. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted a cookie more than I wanted this one when I was reading this book.

Lucy’s relationship with her mom was so similar to my relationship with my own mother. My heart broke when Lucy got the news that her mother’s cancer was back. I pretty much started crying right there. I gotta tell you though, there is NOTHING anyone could have done to keep me away from my mother while she was undergoing chemo. As much as I understood why Lucy agreed to go to Camp Daybreak instead of Holyoke with her parents, like she had done so many years before, there is nothing my mother could have said that would EVER have made me agree to that.

Her refusal to break down was hard for me to see because while I understood her reasons, it still drove me insane. It wasn’t a bad thing to break down about this. It wasn’t something trivial. I spent the entire time just wanting to hug her and reassure her that it was okay to break down and that staying strong all the time wasn’t feasible.

“Because as much as I want to be the one crying, I want to be the kind of person someone can hold onto.”

And there was Keely, another counselor at Camp Daybreak. She was rough and off putting initially, but then she begins to soften up a bit, letting Lucy into her circle of people. I eventually ended up liking her. Mostly because I understood a little bit about what it meant to come from a broken family.

“That ‘broken family’ pity face. Not everyone is lucky enough to have both biological parents around.”

And Keely was exactly right. Not everyone is lucky enough to have both biological parents around. I’m not. My mom’s not, my oldest niece isn’t and so forth. It’s so easy to get jealous of those people who are lucky enough to have both biological parents around. They’re so lucky that neither one of their parents got pulled into drugs. They are so lucky to have both of their parents alive. I still deal with this and I’m 31 years old.

Keely had some less serious moments as well. There’s this scene with all the high school counselors where they’re eating some food together. Keely, Anna, Jones & Mohan.

“She’s like Gollum with those rings.”

“My precious.”

I was laughing for a good ten minutes. It was awesomely nerdy, which I loved. I’m a ginormous Lord of the Rings fan and so I loved the homage to it.

There’s a particular scene about 60% of the way through the book that I absolutely loved. Lucy has been working with a camper named Thuy who is so quiet about her life and Lucy begins to teach her the fundamentals of swimming and Thuy floats on her back for the first time. And I start full on bawling my head off.

“Oh! It’s like lying in bed, only it’s water. And outside.”

Lucy does battle with her faith pretty much the entire summer. Even while she lets go of her boyfriend who put their relationship “on pause” Who even does that? On pause? Like she’s just supposed to wait for you to figure out what you want? But I digress. The battle with her faith seemed to be portrayed realistically from what I know about this stuff. I mean, how could your faith not waver if your mother’s cancer returned and your boyfriend put your relationship on pause. That seems pretty darn realistic to me.

I cannot end this review without talking about Henry Jones. The love interest in this book was different than the previous love interests in Lord’s books and I think it’s because of what he endured when he was younger. He had endured life-altering things in his life that had changed him forever. I loved him and I think he is my favorite of Lord’s love interests that she has written. The way he treated Lucy, respected her beliefs, never pushed for more than she was ready for, was truly awesome to see.

Final thoughts: A beautiful book about faith, family & friendships. It’s a must read.

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4 responses to “Book Review: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

  1. Amazing review! I was also worried about this being overly religious, because I’m not a Christian either and find myself having a difficult time connecting to books that deal with faith in an overwhelming, pushy way. I’m super glad to hear that about this book, and that it was emotional and wonderfully written. I’ve yet to read an Emery Lord book, but I have an ARC of this one so I’ll be diving in now!
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  2. Aha I cannot wait to read this! I have an ARC but haven’t yet had the chance to but I’ve heard such great things about Emery’s work and it seems like a read I’d enjoy! Thanks so much for this amazing review and glad to hear you enjoyed it! 🙂

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