The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

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You can be okay again. Just a different kind of okay than before.

Synopsis:

When it all falls apart, who can you believe in?

Everything is going right for Lucy Hansson, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with all the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job.

Instead, Lucy lands at a camp for kids who have been through tough times. As a counselor, Lucy is in over her head and longs to be with her parents across the lake. But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers, who are as loving and unafraid as she so desperately wants to be.

It’s not just new friends that Lucy discovers at camp—more than one old secret is revealed along the way. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized.

My Thoughts:

I am usually not one to read a lot of YA contemporary novels because I find the drama to be completely avoidable in a lot of them. I will tell you why I keep reading them though…because of this book. This thought provoking book that addresses both old and current issues that people, not just young children or African-Americans or old people, but PEOPLE deal with everyday. There is not one person on this Earth that does not deal with grief, a loss of faith, sad upbringings, sickness, or the nasty curveballs that life can sometimes throw at you.

This story follows a seventeen year old girl, Lucy Hansson, and her battle to find herself again. Lucy is the daughter of a pastor and a nurse, and she grows up with a faith that is black and white. Her world is rocked when she finds out her mother has cancer again. This feels like a betrayal to Lucy because she prayed and prayed for God to heal her mother the first time only to have her get sick again a couple of years later. Lucy starts pushing her boundaries and doing things that she has never done before. Lucy’s long term boyfriend, Lukas, throws a curveball at her when he wants to “pause” their relationship for the summer to find out if they are right for each other. Lucy’s world was dealt another blow when her mother wants her to be a camp counselor at Daybreak, aka “hippie camp,” that is right down the road from her family’s church camp, Holyoke, instead of attending church camp. Lucy agrees just because she knows it will make her mother happy.

Within the first few minutes of being at Daybreak, Lucy is ready to have a panic attack, but in steps Anna. Anna is a breath of fresh air in Lucy’s life who doesn’t pretend to be someone different. In fact, everyone at the camp is a breath of fresh air. Lucy gets a rude awakening once she realizes how different her co-counselors and her campers lives are compared to her. She sees a fourteen year old pregnant girl named Tara, she realizes that she is not the only one to watch a parent fight cancer, and soon figures out that everyone carries their own checked bag. Lucy meets some fantastic friends at this camp who make up their own family. She also meets a boy named Henry who shows her what she was missing with Lukas. All the while, Lucy is trying to find her faith again and learning that being a Christian isn’t always black and white. It can be messy and its okay to mess up every now and then. its okay to question things instead of taking them on blind faith. It’s okay to ask the hard questions and to not be okay. It’s okay to let people in your life that you grew up believing were too different. The strength that Lucy find within herself is amazing. Her compassion and sensitivity for her campers and those around her is awe-inspiring. She makes for an incredible camp counselor to kids that truly need it.

Lucy’s journey was definitely one for the books. It was refreshing to read about someone who was struggling with their faith and reading about diverse characters because those are often not popular topics to write about. I highly recommend this story to those who like: diverse characters, contemporary, camp, thought provoking reads, and a girl just trying to find her way in a world that no longer makes sense to her.

Overall Rating: ★★★★★/★★★★★

 

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