The Names They Gave Us

First Lines: The first prom crisis is manageable.  I’m reapplying my lip color in the ladies’ room when one of the swim team girls bursts in, sobbing.  Our senior captain, Mallory, is right behind her.

I’ve been a fan of Emery Lord from the beginning, and every new book of hers is one that I always add to my to-read list.  She is the new Sarah Dessen (not that anything at all is wrong with still reading Dessen books), writing contemporary stories with love, family, hard problems, and life.  She’s great.  And I had to grab this at the library.

Life is perfect for Lucy.  She’s the swim captain with the perfect boyfriend and a fantastic family.  But when Lucy learns that her mom’s cancer has reappeared, her life goes into a tailspin.  Gone is that comfort she used to feel, gone is her solid faith in God.  She even loses her place at the bible camp she’s been going to her entire life.  Instead, Lucy gets a job at a camp for kids who have been through hard times.  Lucy’s doing her best, but she’s in over her head and wants nothing more than to be across the lake with her parents.  But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers.  Still, it’s not just new friends that Lucy finds at camp–there are also secrets coming to light.  There’s more to Lucy’s family than even Lucy knew about.

I found this one to be better than When We Collided, which was one Lord story I just couldn’t connect with. I don’t think I connected with this story as much as some readers (the ones who keep mentioning how much they cried), but I related to Lucy and her story. Lucy is a PK who loves her time in Bible camp and playing piano in church. She’s close with her parents and she is the swim captain with the perfect boyfriend. But that all falls apart when her mom’s cancer returns. And so does her faith.

I’ll be the first to admit that I usually steer clear of stories with a focus on religion. Mostly it’s because I have my own long and tangled past with religion and I don’t like reminders of certain things. But I’m also drawn to these stories because of the struggles the characters go through.  They just have a different feel to them than stories about other struggles, like families falling apart or trying to fit in.  I can’t really describe why they feel different, just that they are.

This book covers a lot of really dark topics without going too far into detail. Mostly it’s cursory with the proper seriousness to get you to understand what’s going on. This camp is for kids with horrible pasts, remember.  The plot would have been really slow if we had had to listen to everyone’s story.

I really liked the characters. I thought they were all sweet and different in their own ways. Obviously we see the most of Lucy, but she’s got a lot of depth, a lot of struggles. And it really showed how she grew over time. I liked that.

And I liked the plot too. It moves, though not at a ridiculous pace. I was always reading this, barely taking time to put it down. There were few if any spots I would call boring or unnecessary to the story. It all felt like it had a purpose.

Overall, I thought this was a great story. Still maybe not my favorite Lord story, but I really enjoyed this.

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