Review: The Names They Gave Us
Author: Emery Lord
Faith can be heart-warming, devastating and difficult. Emery Lord’s 2017 novel, The Names They Gave Us has all of these emotions. Lucy’s mum’s cancer has recently returned and instead of getting to spend the summer with her mum, Lucy is sent to be a counselor for a kids holiday camp, all summer. Lucy has to leave her perfect boyfriend and all her perfect plans to spend the summer with strangers. While Lucy struggles with new people and situations, she also struggles with her own faith.
The novel reads like any other YA novel so don’t expect a uniquely-written story but the story and the characters make up for the clichéd writing. The group of characters is made of damaged children, teenagers, and adults, they all have ticked boxes. Because of this, a surprisingly large amount of issues is covered. Teen pregnancy, being transgender, and mental health are some of the main topics which are tackled with. They’re all covered respectfully and in a way which will hope to educate and not inspire judgement.
And then we have the inevitable love story, a YA novel would be incomplete without one. Surprisingly, faith and spirituality has a large impact on Lucy’s love life and she definitely doesn’t forget where she came from the second she starts to swoon
For people who are not of faith, I think that this is a very important book to read. It doesn’t shove religion into your face and it tries to break down the many stereotypes surrounding Christianity. It shows how real religion is, how hard faith is, and what it’s like to have grown up into a religious family.
In the end, this is another YA novel. So if you dislike semi-predictable plot lines and banterous teenagers, this one won’t be for you. But unlike some YA novels, the awkward topics aren’t overlooked. There are moments which were definitely not written to be enjoyable but to inform.
This is perfect for anyone who loves a simple YA novel with a twist, I recommend this for 13 years old and up.
“I believe in nature, in science, in jazz, in dancing. And I believe in people. In their resilience, in their goodness. This is my credo; this is my hymn. Maybe it’s not enough for heaven, and maybe I’m even wrong. But if I can walk through the fire and, with blistered skin, still have faith in better days? I have to believe that’s good enough.”