‘The Names They Gave Us’ – Emery Lord

This was one of those books that I was in two minds about before reading. I’d loved ‘When We Collided’ but I wasn’t sure whether this would be little earnest for me.

Seventeen year old Lucy is a fairly typical teenager. Her father is a pastor, so religion is a major part of her life; she has had a steady boyfriend for two years, but their religious beliefs mean they have chosen not to be physically intimate and she is close to her mother. However, when she learns that her mother’s cancer has returned Lucy’s perfect world is thrown into chaos.

Though Lucy has been a counsellor at their Christian camp for years, this summer her mother convinces her to take on the role at Daybreak – a camp for children experiencing trauma. Here Lucy makes friends, learns about herself and her beliefs and – rather obviously – develops her own sense of self.

The setting for this did bother me a little – but Lucy is quick to acknowledge her own potential to stereotype and she tackles head-on the qualms she has about her faith. I liked the way Lucy develops friendships with people that are focused on her as a person, rather than who she is or who she knows. As we watch the summer unfold we come to see the significance of the camp and people within it.

This was a genuinely moving read which, thankfully, doesn’t shy away from some pretty heavy issues. I did feel that everything was being thrown at Lucy (us) thick and fast by the end so I was less convinced by this part of it. However, Lord sends a really positive message with people dealing with things in the best way they can.

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.