The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
Release Date: May 16, 2017
*An e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review – thanks so much for sending me over a copy!*
Clearly, if you’re in the book blogging contemporary world, you’ve heard the name Emery Lord once or twice. Personally, I had heard of the name, but I had never really knew any of her books or what they were about. When I saw this book pop up on my Goodreads recommendations, I thought I would give it a looksie, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much it appealed to me…and even more surprised with how much I was into it. This book was adorable, angsty, and all the right things for a contemporary!
Once Upon a Time…
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?
Books that talk about cancer and religion typically get put into two different categories: they either become “cancer books” or “Christian fiction” and you don’t see too many crossover into something in between. However, this book doesn’t fall into those set genre types. It’s not a cancer book. It’s not straight up Christian fiction. This is a book that has a character struggling with cancer and Christian issues. But it’s focused on our lovely narrator, Lucy and her struggles as a person, and it’s not just a filler for these genres.
Lucy really is the star of this story. She grows so much throughout the story, and I grew to like her quite a bit. In the beginning of the story, she starts off so solid, but after the emergence of her mother’s cancer and being forced out of her bubble, she becomes a whole new person who now understands so much more. She has a wonderful redemption story, and it was so easy to root with her as she continued on.
I also loved the aspect of her faith in this. To be honest, I didn’t know how it was going to be dealt with. I’m really not a religious person, so sometimes books that tend to have a Christian fiction sense don’t always strike a certain cord with me. However, this book really doesn’t focus on that, and even though Lucy and I differed, it was done in a way that was relatable and realistic. While Lucy maintains her faith, her questioning is so realistic and heartfelt. Her life is completely upturned, and to see how she reacts to something so massive especially in regards to her religion was great.
The diversity aspect was wonderful as well. There was a lot of diversity in this book and far more than what I was expecting which was even cooler. Lucy has had a sheltered life, and it was interesting to see her experiences. There is a lot of different cultures in this book (the lead dreamboat, Henry is African American, etc.), and LGBTQIA is here as well (there is someone that is transgender in the book).
The romance was so adorable as well. Henry and Lucy were so cute, and Henry – oh, Henry, was a dream. He was so sweet and sensitive. Every time he was hanging out with the kids, I would just squeal because he was just so cute. Lucy and him were wonderful together, and I loved the slow burn of the romance.
The friend group was great as well. I loved how different and unique they all were. They just weren’t the usual undeveloped characters that are just there to make up the background. They had their own hopes, dreams, and personalities. I loved how they stuck up for each other and were fiercely loyal and protective. I totally wanted to be part of their group.
There were just two slightly bigger issues I had with the book. The first one is more minor. I just felt some times it just got too fluffy? Like, the plot was kind of lost a bit, and we just were given Henry and Lucy being cute together. Don’t get me wrong – I love me some fluff, but it seemed a little too cheesy at times when there was literally nothing going on besides them being together. This was totally minor and didn’t detract from the story really at all.
The second issue I had was with the ending. No spoilers really, but it just ends. I could see the story was ending, and I kept thinking, omigosh, Netgalley cut off the story, they deleted the last two chapters! Where is the epilogue?? Until I realized…there was none. I felt there was no real resolution given – it was too open ended. There was a lot going on at the end, too. There was a HUGE plot twist given about two chapters before the end that was never really dealt with and there was a lot hanging in the balance. I get Lord was giving us a way to create our own ending since we know now how much Lucy has changed, but I felt like there needed to be SO much more said. Imagine getting to all the juicy bits and then…having nothing. I still really liked this book, but I needed a more finite ending.
Overall, though, this story cute, feely, and definitely a contemporary to add to your list! I really enjoyed it even though the ending rocked me a bit. I will definitely be checking out Emery’s further works (I literally bought one on sale right after I finished this), and I can understand a bit better why her name is constantly coming up in the contemporary world. Also, camp books rock. Four crowns and an Ariel rating – especially because Lucy does love a good splash in the pool and has some rebellious tendencies like a certain mermaid.
Check it out:
What do you think? Have you read an Emery Lord book? Have you recommendations for me? Are you excited for this book? What do you think about non-endings? Let’s discuss in the comments below!