Review: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

The Names The Gave Us by Emery Lord (UK edition)

Title: The Names They Gave Us
Author: Emery Lord
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books (1st June 2017)
Blurb:

Lucy has her perfect summer planned out: perfect boyfriend, perfect job and quality time with her perfect parents.

Then her mom’s cancer comes back, and suddenly life makes no sense.

Before she knows it, Lucy finds herself agreeing to volunteer as a counselor at a camp for troubled kids, where lives are more different from her own than she could have imagined possible. Here Lucy meets the dashing but mysterious fellow counselor Jones, who will change the way she sees the world forever.

With tragedy hovering at the edges of Lucy’s life, this summer she must find out who she really is and what it means to love.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)
Review:

THE NAMES THEY GAVE US is the fourth book from Emery Lord. It’s a standalone young adult novel that tells the story of Lucy Hansson. The story takes place over several months – it starts in April and ends in August. When the book starts Lucy already has her summer planned out, but after she returns from prom she learns her mother’s cancer has come back and that changes everything. Her mom talks her into volunteering as a counsellor at a camp for troubled kids, that’s close enough for a weekly visits; hopefully allowing Lucy space to come to terms with everything. There, despite the tragedy hovering on the edges of her life, Lucy meets some great people and makes some wonderful friends.

If you’ve enjoyed Lord’s previous books then I think you’ll enjoy this one too. THE NAME THEY GAVE US is the second book of Emery Lord’s that I have read, the first being WHEN WE COLLIDED. They are two very different books, but both were an absolute joy to read. I really enjoyed how Lord wrote about religion in this book; Lucy’s struggle with her faith in the face of the return of her mother’s cancer felt painfully real, and even with that her faith felt really inclusive. I enjoyed the way that the book is split into months; it really helped to capture the passage of time. The friendships in this were lovely and vibrant. And fair warning, the ending isn’t neat but honestly that’s part of why I liked it.

I really enjoyed following Lucy’s journey through the book. At the start of THE NAME THEY GAVE US Lucy is very sure she knows what her future is going to hold, learning of the return of mom’s cancer changes that. The plot of the book basically falls out from there – it’s almost like a stone dropped into a still pond, and all the ripples that come from that one event. THE NAME THEY GAVE US is filled with a lot of emotions, both the good and the bad. It’s definitely a book that will stick with you when you’ve reached the end.

Whilst Lucy’s parents don’t really take a prominent role in this book, they do play a big part in her life. I really liked the fact that Lord chose to make the relationship between them so vivid. Friendships play a huge part in THE NAME THEY GAVE US, and whilst there is romance for me it didn’t really play a big part in Lucy’s story. At the camp for troubled kids Lucy meets some interesting people and makes some good friends. I thought Lord put a lot of thought into the characters, and whilst we see more of some than others I didn’t find any of them flat. I don’t hold out much hope, but I’d like to see more of this world again – maybe not focusing on Lucy, but there were so many characters I’d like to know more about.

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