review: the names they gave us

The Names They Gave Us is my third Emery Lord book, and like the other two, I loved it! Emery Lord writes such great summer books, she's definitely one of my favourite YA contemporary authors. I gave high ratings for two of her books (4.6 stars for When We Collided and 4.5 stars for The Start of Me And You), and I'm happy to rate this one 4.5 stars!

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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?
Emotionally-charged and unforgettable, Emery Lord’s storytelling shines with the promise of new love and true friendship, even in the face of life’s biggest challenges. 

I love that this book has a very different theme compared to the other two that I've read, but that it still deals with very relatable issues. This one discusses a lot about one's faith in God, which I personally thought was wonderful. I think i've read quite a lot of YA contemporary, and almost none of them featured a main character living a more religious lifestyle.

Even though I'm a Muslim and in this book the main character, Lucy, is a Christian, the main concept and the spiritual dilemmas the Lucy and the other characters faced were still extremely relatable. Facing situations that makes you question your faith in God can be very difficult, and can become something that's uncomfortable and embarrassing to talk about. To read about characters facing this makes me feel less alone and less guilty about having have had similar thoughts. It reminded me that I am human. I appreciated the acknowledgement that just because religious people have certain beliefs they hold on to, it doesn't mean they have it all together or that they're judgmental towards everyone who doesn't share the same views.


I really love Lucy's character! I relate to her in many ways, such as the way she wants people to like her, the way she panics and blames herself for being lame when she tries too hard to say the right things, how she struggles with her relationship with God, and a lot of other things that she did. She had such fantastic character development, it was so wonderful and motivating to see her grow and understand things about life.

One of the other things I liked about The Names They Gave Us was Lucy's journey in discovering herself, and her realizations about growing up. Even though it wasn't her choice to go to Camp Daybreak, I still loved that she was brave enough to give it a shot, and I enjoyed going through the journey with her. The whole camp environment was described superbly. Reading about the bonds between the camp members and the counsellors, the exciting activities they all had to do, the wonderful new friends Lucy makes, and pretty much everything about the camp, was so nostalgic. It brought me back to memories of the camps I went to during primary and secondary school.

I love ALL the characters in this book! The kids at the camp are so precious. The other counsellors are amazing, especially because they each have their own individual problems but they have so much love and passion in guiding their camp kids. Both of Lucy's parents are such important characters. I was amazed at how the book was brought to more depth when we find out more about Marianne's history. It was also very heartbreaking to read about Lucy's mother having cancer, and how it was affecting Lucy's life. There was definitely diversity among the characters, which was terrific.


Emery Lord's writing was very easy to get into, and i found myself occasionally dog-earring pages of the book because the dialogue was just so relatable. The romance was also really cute, it was great that it didn't become the centre of the story. It had the perfect balance of romance, friendship, family, and self-discovery.


All in all, if you enjoy YA contemporary you definitely can't miss out on this one. I haven't read Emery Lord's first book, Open Road Summer, but I think it's still fair to say that she writes really wonderful books. I definitely see myself rereading The Names They Gave Us in the future, and suggesting this book when people ask for recommendations.


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2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge
Kamalia has read 15 books toward her goal of 50 books.