The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord follows Lucy Hansson, a Christian teenager whose summer turns upside down when her mother’s cancer returns. Lucy expects to spend her summer with her family at the church camp where her father preaches like every year. However, her mother suggests that she works at the camp across the lake focused on children facing tough times. At her new camp, Lucy meets a diverse group of friends and learns several secrets about her family.
I heard a lot of rave reviews for The Names They Gave Us, so I definitely had extremely high expectations going into this book. Usually, it’s rare for me to find books that live up to the hype. I was especially wary since I read another book by Emery Lord, Open Road Summer (see my review here), last year and left with mixed feelings. However, The Names They Gave Us exceeded my expectations. I can see it ending up one of my favorite lists at the end of the year.
One of the major selling points of this novel are the characters. From the main characters to the side characters, all are very realistic and well-developed. I think Lucy is very relatable, but also very inspirational for younger readers to branch out and try new experiences. Additionally, the characters at the camp and their reasons for spending the summer there are authentically portrayed.
Another reason that I really enjoyed this book was the writing style. This book was recommended for fans of Sarah Dessen and I definitely agree that fans of her books will enjoy this one. The Names They Gave Us has a solid writing style and contains a lot of depth within simple details, similar to Sarah Dessen’s books.
The final reason that I really enjoyed this book was how large religion played a role in this story. Like Lucy, I’m a Christian and I always enjoy reading stories that have characters who share the same religion. It’s always interesting to see religion play a role in mainstream young adult books and I really enjoyed how Lucy’s faith was challenged and how her faith grow throughout the course of this story.
Overall, The Names They Gave Us is a book that I will probably be recommending to anyone who asks me for a book recommendation. From the characters to the plot, this book really hit it out of the park for me. I give this book five out of five stars.