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?

Quick Thoughts and Rating: 4.5 stars! Lord comes out blazing in her usual amazing fashion with this heartbreaking, yet heart-lifting story of a girl struggling with her faith after her mother receives a cancer diagnosis for the second time. When circumstances land Lucy as a teen counselor in a camp for troubled youth, she finds her inner strength because she finds her tribe– a group of vibrant, wonderfully diverse teens that become more family than friend.

♥ Review: Let’s just get this out of the way: I love Emery Lord’s books. I just do. The way she writes, the characters she creates, the stories she tells? I love all of it and probably always will. She’s on a short list of authors whose books I will want/buy without really knowing what it will be about simply because she wrote it. There are other aspects that I know I’ll be getting with a Lord book every time, too. I know I’ll get strong characters with facets and flaws that make them inherently complicated and human. I know she’ll incorporate strong friendships and positive family portrayals, both dynamics that I think are extremely important but aren’t altogether too commonly represented in YA titles. Lastly, I know that the book will contain a storyline that will bruise my heart a little, make me think a lot, and walk away feeling like I understand people, ones from different walks of life from me, just a little more. It feels like Lord writes about real life, every single bit of it: the ugly, the scary, the exhilarating, the joyous, the sad, the tender loving moments and everything in-between. This book and the snippet of the world she created within it are no different. I connected to it and the people inside of it on so many different levels, and it’s a certain kind of magic when that happens.

As for the book itself, so many things unfold and are explored throughout the scope of this book. Lord doesn’t shy away from the bigger, heavier topics, and if you’ve read any of her other titles, you already know this to be true yourself. This one tackles faith, as it pertains to both religion and the resiliency and grace of people. You’ll go on this journey of heartwarming, sad discovery with a pastor’s daughter and her small family, a group of racially, gender/sexual- identifying diverse teenagers, and a community of people that love and want to protect them all. I won’t touch on any details because this book is an emotional rollercoaster meant to be experienced, not told about through a secondhand perspective. I feel like this book will be/will mean a lot of different things for a lot of different readers. It’s my great hope that everyone will connect to it as much as I did. I laughed, my tear ducts burned, I swooned, my heart ached and then ballooned, but I felt and loved it all.

I won’t say everything was perfect, but it came close. The ending was a little too open for my taste, meaning that I was missing that complete sense of some sort of finality, but it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t live with if this is what the published version still reads like. Overall, this almost nudged Lord’s ORS out of my favorite spot among her titles.

♥ Teaser Quote: Lots to choose from especially those hilarious, yet poignant moments shared between fellow counselors turned friends around a campfire, but I’ll save those for you to enjoy on your own. Instead, this is a moment of wisdom shared between a mother and a daughter about love and life.

    “I didn’t tell you because it’s honestly so stupid–like, nothing will every happen. And I know I shouldn’t even have a dumb crush right after breaking up with Lukas, but–”
     “Oh, Bird.”  She cups her hands on my cheek. “You’re only seventeen.”
     I flinch. I’m not too young to know my own heart. Sure, it’s terrain I’m still learning to map, but I know the landscape better than anyone. I know the unexpected dips and the paths that were not meant for me. “What does that mean?”
     “It means that everything changes so fast. It’s okay if you change too.”  Seeing that I still don’t quite get it, she smiles ever so slightly.  “It means, good for you. Crush away. Get crushed, even. Feel it all, okay? Show up for it.”

– quote taken from the ARC of The Names They Gave Us, pg. 231

Book Rating Breakdown
Cover
Writing
Characters
Plot
Pacing
Swoons
General Book Feels
Degree my heart was ripped out
Cute, Fuzzies, Flutters
Overall:

♥ Rec It? Certainly! I doubt there will ever be a time when I’m not heralding for people to get Lord’s books. Her writing style and strength of teenage voice will always have me on the search for more of her words and recommending them to others.

♥ A very special thanks to Stacee for letting me borrow her copy. Make sure you go check out her blog because she’s my most favorite person ever to see what awesome authorly adventure she’s been on recently.

*Disclaimer: My KP, Stacee from the wonderfully fabulous Adventures of a Book Junkie, lovingly lending me her ARC. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition (which you should totally go and buy).

Full of giggles, flails, snark and Southern endearments. Avid Reader. Lover of swoony boys, kickass heroines, yummy kissing scenes, and pretty prose.

I like to draw hearts in the sky (eternal optimist) and wish on stars (forever dreamer). Documentaries, sweet tea, sleep, and brightly colored knee-socks are a few of my favorite things. ♥

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