Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: May 16, 2017
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Open Road Summer,
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "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?"
Lucy is pretty much the perfect girl. She's a high school junior who does well in school, she is on the swim team, her boyfriend is a perfect gentleman, and she gets along very well with her parents. Her dad is a pastor and Lucy just assumed she would be spending another summer working at Bible camp, which is something she actually looks forward to doing. But Lucy's world is turned upside down when her mother's cancer reappears. Her mother encourages Lucy to take a job at another camp that that her friend runs. It isn't a Bible camp; it is for kids that are dealing with tough times and Lucy's mom thinks she could really help the children. Lucy doesn't necessarily want to do this, but if her mom is asking her, she tries her best. To top it off, her seemingly perfect boyfriend wants to take a break from their relationship, so this is really going to be a different sort of summer for Lucy. While at camp, she meets new people, she is forced out of her comfort zone more often than not, and even learns some long kept family secrets. Emery Lord's The Names They Gave Us is a moving YA story that will definitely tug on my people's heartstrings.
Even though I really couldn't relate to Lucy in The Names They Gave Us, I appreciated her story, which is always the mark of a great author. Lucy is very religious and starts questioning her faith once her mother's cancer returns. I could appreciate this part of the novel as there always comes a point in most people's lives when this happens. Although Lucy is one of the most religious characters I've encountered in years, Lord doesn't write her as being overly preachy or annoying. She is frustratingly naive, but endearing. When Lucy's mom requests she goes to Daybreak, I knew that Lucy's world was going to open up tremendously and I was happy for her to be out of her comfort zone.
Summer camp is the best setting for a character who is pretty sheltered. Lucy gets the opportunity to meet people who are different than herself and expand her horizons. It truly is Lucy's coming-of-age story and I loved this aspect of The Names They Gave Us. Lucy even starts a romance while at camp, but that is definitely not the focus of the story.
While at camp, Lucy unearths a major family secret and while I found this compelling, I thought it was a bit rushed. I sort of wanted Lucy to explore this a bit more, but since it was towards the end of the novel, we really didn't have much of a chance to even process it greatly.
Nonetheless, The Names They Gave Us definitely tugged on my heartstrings. I didn't enjoy it as much as Lord's other novels that included a swoon-y romance, fantastic dialogue and friendships, or a great road trip, but I think many young adults may connect with Lucy's story and that is what's most important.