Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

Title: The Names They Gave Us
Author: Emery Lord
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age
Source: Bloomsbury via NetGalley

From acclaimed author Emery Lord 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. 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.
Review by Nara

Seriously, look that beautiful, beautiful cover. A round of applause to whoever made that cover, because not only is it pretty, but it actually has some relevance to the contents of the novel. I like the US cover as well, but I feel like the UK cover seriously nails things.

Anyway, moving on to the contents on the novel. I have to admit, I didn't enjoy this book as much as I have Emery Lord's previous novels. Objectively, it was an excellent novel, but I think the most likely thing that made me rate it only a "liked it" rating was because it focused too much on religion. And to be honest, religion is a bit of a turn off for me in contemporary novels. I suppose I did appreciate how in The Names They Gave Us, the story didn't try and force Christianity on everyone, but when there are mentions and sinning and praying and all that, it just breaks the start of the connection I might have made with the main character. To be honest, if there was less focus on faith, I have no doubt that this book would have been rated higher. It was just a personal thing that prevented me from fully enjoying the novel.

Lucy meets a diverse range of people at the summer camp for "troubled kids", and I found that I was quite interested in the various backstories of these other characters. They were all developed quite well within the length constraints of the novel, and had factors that pulled me into the story. In addition, despite not being able to connect with the main character as much as I have in Lord's previous novels, Lucy was still quite a likeable and realistically developed character in herself. The romance was quite adorable, and there were certain scenes that had me smiling to myself.

Overall, quite a well written novel, although there were factors that kept me personally from fully enjoying the book.

Liked it
Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Romance: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 5/5