The Names They Gave Us // A Fantastic Summer Read It’ll Definitely Give You That Summer Feeling

05 June 2017

Published: 1st June 2017
Source: Netgalley
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
My Rating:
From the acclaimed author of When We Collided comes a vibrant, compelling story of love, loss, faith, and friendship.

Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake and spending quality time with her parents. But when her mom's cancer reappears, Lucy falters--in her faith 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 have been a fan of Emery Lord’s for a while now. I read Open Road Summer and loved it (I had to beg borrow and steal myself a copy of that… or, you know, go to my local library. Semantics!) and so I was so excited for her latest release, especially as Lord’s books have begun to get published over here in the UK too. I was also hesitant to begin, like every other release I’m excited for I always seem to have a sense of hesitance going in as I’m never sure if I’m hyping it up in my own mind. I wasn’t, thank goodness.

When you read an Emery Lord book you know you're in for an excellent read and I cannot dispute the brilliance of this book. It is the perfect summer read even for those of us who didn't go to summer camp. It just brings up those feelings of summer and how so much seems to change and yet stay the same.

I really like Lucy and how she was a character many can relate to. She has been the good girl her entire life and it's not exactly been a hardship for her. She's liked being good and respected by her parents so when her mother's cancer returns and her parents ask her to go to the hippy summer camp across the lake from their church one she feels hurt and angry and doesn't quite know what is happening in her life. She's struggling to come to terms with the fact she may lose her mother in this second battle with cancer and she's learning that everything she thought she knew may not be entirely true. It's a feeling many of us know and when you add in her struggle with her faith then you have an interesting read.

I really liked the religious element of the book. Lucy was in many ways far more naïve than many teenagers as she hasn't had sex or gone to the usual raging high school parties but that made me like her more. Many people can relate to that, though. And the fact that she was struggling to reconcile her faith under the circumstances was great because religion isn't featured too often in books. Not in this way. I mean I'm not religious but I could relate to her struggles because the struggles of all teens figuring out who they are. And it was made all the more interesting in Lucy’s case as she has legitimate reasons to be angry. Her faith is something she has been raised with so when she gets so many different things presented to make her doubt herself seeing the path she takes is interesting.

I also really loved the cast of characters. I mean, Lord writes brilliant characters, it is a fact, but I really enjoyed these specific characters and they were a diverse cast of several POC characters and a transgender BFF and religious characters presented in a positive light! It was fantastic. Sure, it was Christian characters presented in a positive light, I will forever search for a YA with characters with a different religious background but you take what you can get and really, all religion gets a bad rep now and again.

I think the reason I didn't rate this 5 stars is the fact that I kind of wanted more which sounds harsh, doesn't it? I just wanted and expected a few more realisations and the discoveries at the end were fantastic but I felt like they were rushed in and I'd figured out some of it already. I feel like they could have been revealed sooner and then they could have been explored more in depth and we could fully have seen how this affected Lucy's own choices. Instead the reveals sort of tumbled out at the end and you’re left with that open ending which frustrated the hell out of me but I get it because this book was never about Lucy’s mom’s battle with cancer. It was about Lucy learning she can try different things and question her own religion and choices and it’s ok. It’s about her learning acceptance of herself and others and so when that finished the book ended.

In the end, there can never be any doubt that I enjoyed it because I did and it was definitely a favourite but I feel liked it missed taking advantage of some of the plot points. This book could have been more and I’m sad about that. But the questioning of faith and diverse cast of characters is plenty to enjoy. It’s also a brilliant, summer read… you know… if you’re looking for one.

What’s your favourite Emery Lord book? And please tell me your favourite summer reads I’m prepping my Kindle for summer. Do you find yourself frustrated when an author misses a trick and don’t explore a plot point to it’s fullest?
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