Hey guys! Today I’ll be reviewing The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord, who is also the best-selling author of When We Collided. I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me an eARC as this book has been one of my most anticipated novel of the year. This was a heart-warming read. Lord did an amazing job in writing themes that are perceived to be difficult to write, which I would elaborate in my review. This novel was cleverly written and the feelings are portrayed beautifully. Read on if you wanna know how I found it!
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.
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Publication Date: June 1 2017
RRP: $17.99 AUD
“Who we are is written in the stars.”
The story begins when Lucy’s prom night, where she was happily surrounded by her swim team friends and her seemingly ‘perfect’ boyfriend. Nothing can go wrong right? Uh-uh. On the same night, she discovered that her mother’s cancer is back – and at that moment – everything is at stake for Lucy.
I particularly enjoyed reading the way Lucy questions her religious faith: just hours before the news, she’s all faithful etc. – but then the news hit – she doesn’t know anymore. I’m going to share something person here: I am a Catholic, and I sometimes – when times are so tough – I doubt too. We are humans after all – there’s only so much you can do to keep your own faith strong – and trying out best every day.
Ok back to the book. So after being persuaded by her mother, Lucy sets off to a camp to work as a counselor for kids. The plot is really well paced – not too fast but we still get to see how the day unfolds and activities that the characters participates in. The social issues that are discussed can be quite confronting, not for me particularly – but it can be triggering for some ( and depending how sensitive are you towards the issues): isolation, domestic violence, mental health, sexuality, foster care and other family issues. Lucy, being a daughter of the local pastor – she was rarely exposed to such stuff. At times I found it quite hard to believe how ‘clueless’ Lucy is towards the modern world. It’s quite possible that she’s lived in a protected shell and she’s thrown into this camp and suddenly ‘wow I’ve never seen someone who is this and that before, how interesting?’.
Lucy is curious and loyal, but is shown to be quite insensitive (she does get better towards the end), and for someone who has a mom with cancer, I have to say she’s quite selfish. I didn’t mind it too much initially, but it just gets me at times and I’m just annoyed at her for not acknowledging that some people have much worse problems that she has (i.e. not knowing who their mom is, or doesn’t actually have a mom). But still, the way Lord handled such difficult themes was good – and it gives a good insight of a mind of an individual who is in fact quite uninformed about certain issues – and how easy it is to be misunderstood and vice versa.
Another aspect that I love about this novel is the loveliest thing called friendship. This book makes me want an awesome friendship group like this one too. Read this book if you love hilarious friendship groups (Raven Cycle Peeps this is for you!).
Emotions are written beautifully. Raw human psyche brilliantly portrayed. The one other little complain I have is the ending, it’s a okay one but I still have so many questions that bugged me a lot – I truly think it can be improved.
It’s a solid 4-stars read for me! Hope you enjoy my review! I’ll see you next time! xx