The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
Published: June 1st 2017 by Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
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I received a copy of this book for free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Lucy has her perfect summer all planned: 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 counsellor at a camp for troubled kids, where lives are more different from her own that she could have imagined possible. Here Lucy meets the dashing but mysterious fellow counsellor, 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 discover who she really is and what it means to love.
I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this, as books that have religion (especially Christianity) as a central aspect aren’t really my thing. This, however, was very well-written and all of the topics are handled in a sensitive way. It definitely is a big part of the story, but not so much that it’s not enjoyable if you don’t relate to it (I don’t). This was the first book I’ve read from Emery Lord and I really liked her way of writing – it’s easy to read but not patronising, and it’s plot-driven but it doesn’t feel like anything is being used as a plot device that shouldn’t. This is a nice book to read during the summer. It’s equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming and overall it left me with a great sense of appreciation for my life and the people in it, which I believe is the main point of the book.
I appreciated the cast of characters – there are POC, including a couple of black counsellors, at Lucy’s camp, there are gay characters, there’s a trans girl, and a Jewish girl. I can’t speak for how good the rep is but it’s definitely inclusive, even of different religions and beliefs.
The romance is a nice subplot and it’s not too much, so it doesn’t overwhelm the main story. Sometimes in books like this, that deal with family tragedy, the romance is brought in to “fix” the main character’s problems and it ends up very unrealistic. This book didn’t do that – Lucy still had problems, but she built up a support network to help her deal with them.
The setting of this story is really beautiful – a summer camp by a lake, surrounded by woods. I love this kind of setting because I don’t often get to visit places like this, so reading about them is the next best thing.
I would have loved more backstory for some of the minor characters – Lucy has the least interesting history out of all the characters but it’s the main one we hear about. I would have liked to know more about Jones, Anna, Mohan, and Keely.
Rating: 4 stars
Recommended for: This is a heartwarming novel about loss and growth and I recommend it if you’re a fan of YA contemporaries in general – this is a book that I think a lot of people will enjoy.
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