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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?
ARC received for review purposes in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
A few minutes after finishing The Names They Gave Us, with a teary face, I sat down and thought to myself “How does she keep doing this to me?”. She being, Emery Lord, author who likes to destroy me with feels. I’ve read all four of her books now and every one of them has been an emotional and memorable read that I will always cherish. The Names They Gave Us, was just … gorgeously written, and for now, it is my second favorite book from her.
Despite being religious, I always think to myself that I won’t enjoy books that have a focus on faith and religion. Having read several books now, I know that there are actually authors who can write stories about faith without coming across as preachy. I honestly think that it’s important that there are books out there for teen about teens and their relationship with faith, which is why I think The Names They Gave Us will resonate with many readers. Grace has a complicated relationship with her religion, and I absolutely loved how Emery Lord depicted that here. A lot of her doubts, the sometimes shaky foundations of her faith, the strength of her relationship with God resonated with me on many levels. I saw a lot of my teen AND current self in Grace. Grace wasn’t just all about her religion. She was a sweet girl, really struggling with the resurgence of her mother’s cancer and how that affects her relationship with her religion. Deep down, she was an inherently good person and throughout the book you really see her goodness come out in the small, but consequential scenes.
The Names They Gave Us wasn’t just Grace’s story of coming to terms with the ongoing changes in her life. Her family life, the new friendships she forges and the romance she finds, all add to her story. Grace’s parents were such important figures in her life. I loved how much of a role they played here, and how involved they were in her life. Not only that, but they were not portrayed as the stereotypical pastor and pastor’s wife that you sometimes see. They were open-minded and kind and absolutely loving. Some of my favorite scenes in The Names They Gave Us were Grace’s scenes with her parents. The new friends that she makes at her camp, were another highlight for me. This was such a diverse cast in race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and personalities, and I absolutely loved that. They were all very different from each other, but they still fit together seamlessly. They made me laugh, think and sometimes, tear up. Then there was Henry, Grace’s love interest, who as with all Emery Lord book boyfriends, made me swoon with his charm, kindness and loving nature. Henry was a sweetheart, and his slow growing relationship with Grace was awkward, sometimes complicated, but so sweet and swoony. Their kisses and conversations made me positively giddy.
The Names They Gave Us was an emotional roller coaster of a book – it made me smile, laugh and by the end, cry. It has to be one of the most honest books I have ever read, and that I will wholeheartedly recommend. In fact, if you’re a YA contemporary fan and have yet to read Emery Lord, I demand that you read her books right away.