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?
Thanks to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me a copy of THE NAMES THEY GAVE US for review.
I read WHEN WE COLLIDED by Emery Lord last year (it was actually one of my first review books I received!) and I enjoyed it. At the time I didn’t love it as I was bigger on fantasy and light hearted contemporaries. But since recently I prefer to read darker books that focus on topics such as mental illness, I feel like I would appreciate it a lot more.
I’m going off topic… how unusual… Anyway…
I was still really excited to read Emery’s new book, and I can say that I was right to feel this way! It was a really great story with developed characters and something a bit different to what I usually read.
I found the first half of the book slow and a tiny bit boring. We had been introduced to our main character, her mum whose cancer has returned, her father who is a pastor, and her boring boyfriend. And then she went to this summer camp and I was still a little bit disinterested. And then suddenly, we were introduced to all these other characters who had their own back stories. With such a diverse range of characters who continued to developed throughout the book, how could I not love them?
Firstly I want to talk about our main character, Lucy. In the beginning, I didn’t feel much of a connection to her, but as the book continued and we got to know her more, she definitely grew on me. She is strong, loyal and her thoughts are constantly running wild which just showed how curious she is about the world.
Similarly to Lucy, I wasn’t a big fan of Henry in the beginning and I felt like he had no depth to his character. But then he and Lucy started hanging out and we learn’t more about him, and all of a sudden I really liked him. We still didn’t get a lot from him by the end of the book, but he was just a side character. This story wasn’t about Lucy and Henry’s romance, so I’m glad that not too much of the book was focused on that.
What I loved most about the book was the exploration of faith and Christianity. I’ve read maybe one book before that explored this scene, so it was really nice to pick this up and immediately be thrown into it all. I am Catholic, I believe in God, and I pray every night before I go to sleep, and this is something about myself that I don’t often see in YA characters. It was nice to be able to relate to Lucy in more ways than one.
As I briefly mentioned before, I felt a lot of different things for the story line. It was slow at first, but once it picked up pace I became interested in what was happening. However, thinking back on the story now, it wasn’t overly eventful (this isn’t always a bad thing). There were a few different side story lines happening at the same time, but the story wasn’t BIG (am I making any sense right now?). I guess what I’m trying to say is that this book mainly focuses on the characters, their back stories, and their development throughout the book; I actually liked this. It would’ve been nice to have a bit more of something, but overall it was a nice story.
I want to briefly mention the ending because I really don’t know how to feel about it. It ended so quickly and suddenly with really no closure. I was reading through the final page and flipped over expecting there to be another chapter, when i was faced with the acknowledgements. Open endings can be good because it’s left to the interpretation of the reader, but I’m not a big fan of them. I just want to know what happened to all the characters in the end!!!
Comment below if you read THE NAMES THEY GAVE US and let me know what your thoughts are!