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The Names They Gave Us Hardcover – May 16, 2017
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"A natural successor to Sarah Dessen’s The Truth about Forever. . . . Lord explores the hardships in both Lucy’s life and the lives of the people around her without forgetting about the joys of ordinary life, summer love, and the pitfalls of growing up, all while offering a beautiful, all-too-rare portrait of a religion that accepts instead of condemns. Comfortingly familiar, vibrant, and, at times, wrenching, this belongs on all shelves." - starred review, Booklist
"Lucy’s story, as well as those of the other Daybreakers, will ring true for kids trying to find peace among their own broken pieces." - BCCB
"This solid coming-of-age story with family drama and personal growth is a must-have for libraries with Jenny Han and Jennifer Niven fans." - School Library Journal
"Lucy's problems are delivered with sensitivity and originality, plus romance, intrigue, and a little bit of mischief." - Kirkus Reviews
"A vividly drawn novel of how we believe, how it changes, and how it changes us. In Lucy Hansson, Emery Lord gives us a narrator so vibrantly real that by the last chapter she felt like a friend I'd grown up with. Lucy's journey is as unforgettable as her voice." - Anna-Marie McLemore, author of Morris Award Finalist THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS and National Book Award longlisted WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS
"This is more than a love story. When We Collided carefully yet effortlessly puts mental illness in conversation with the beauty and struggle of adolescence. It is a book I wish could have written, but am so much better for having read." - Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of DUMPLIN’ and SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY on WHEN WE COLLIDED
"Searingly honest, gut-wrenchingly authentic, and deeply romantic, When We Collided is a gift of a novel. It tackles tough topics with nuance, and will make readers both laugh and cry, sometimes within the span of a page." - Jasmine Warga, author of MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES on WHEN WE COLLIDED
"A five-star must-read romance for older teens (and up) that will challenge readers toward a better understanding of a too-often marginalized and stigmatized segment of the population, When We Collided is an important book not only for this generation of teens, but those who’ve come before . . . and those who will come after." - USA Today on WHEN WE COLLIDED
"An absolute tearjerker romance with a powerful message about weightier topics of grief and mental illness." - starred review, School Library Journal on WHEN WE COLLIDED
"In sharp contrast to darker, more issue-driven YA books, this title keeps truer to the problems that most teens face. The protagonist’s upbeat attitude will inspire readers to persevere even during the low points in life." - starred review, School Library Journal on THE START OF ME AND YOU
"This is the teen world as it should be, full of good times and good friends to temper life’s inevitable sorrows, big and small. Fans of Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti will want to add Emery Lord to their summer reading list." - BCCB on THE START OF ME AND YOU
"Lord offers a sweet story of love and loss. . . . The author is gentle with Paige as she struggles to redefine herself both in school and at home, as well as figure out who understands her best as she stumbles toward new romance." - Publishers Weekly on THE START OF ME AND YOU
"Reads like an ode to unconditional love that will keep readers firmly believing in believing." - Booklist on OPEN ROAD SUMMER
About the Author
Emery Lord is the author of Open Road Summer, The Start of Me and You, and When We Collided. She lives with her husband in Ohio, where they are owned by two rescue dogs.
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I will preface by saying, as much as I love Open Road Summer, Emery Lord excels most when she's writing about grief - both the beginnings of it and the moving on bits. That's why I love The Start of Me and You, and now The Names They Gave Us, so much.
Release date: May 16, 2017
An ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
In her fourth novel, Emery Lord explores themes of anxiety, doubt, faith, and growth, all through the voice of 17-year-old Lucy Hansson. Doubt and growth are not unfamiliar topics for Lord’s past books, but faith is certainly a new theme for her to tackle, and she does it masterfully, while showcasing well-formed characters as well as brokenness, new friendships, and summer romance.
The Names They Gave Us features a cast of around ten significant characters. Lucy, of course, is the most important. From chapter one, her character traits are clear—helpful, caring, take-charge, and creative, all important traits for a camp counselor. Supporting characters include Lucy’s parents; Rhea, the camp director; Lukas, the aforementioned ex-boyfriend; Bryan, the camp’s therapist; and her fellow high school junior counselors, Keely Simmons, Anna Miroslaw, Henry Jones, and Mohan Tambe. Each of the counselors—who are already a tight-knit group but become Lucy’s friends over the course of the book—gets a fair amount of characterization, and I appreciated how Lucy’s mom and dad were defined through their relationships with her but also by their pasts and through their relationship with each other. One of the few things that would improve The Names They Gave Us is more time to process all the other counselors’ backstories/baggage, particularly since Mohan’s is never shared. Anna’s gets perhaps the most focus after Lucy’s, and both Keely’s and Henry’s are touched on during key moments, but I wanted more of their stories in general.
I love several things about The Names They Gave Us, too many to fit in this review. There are so many little moments that pulled me into the story, and I think readers will connect with them, as well. Lord’s writing is magnificent, highlighted by the way she uses words. Some of my favorite moments are at a wedding (“I’m not prepared for ‘La vie en rose’ amid their life in lavender” ), and when Lucy describes her favorite part of nature: “Because when you’re little, it seems like clouds are solid, like you could sit on some. But then you grow up and cut through them in an airplane, ad when you’re high enough, they blanket the world with soft cotton” (99). Chapter three’s structure is centered around numbers, like how long Mrs. Hansson’s surgery takes and how many sermons Pastor Hansson preaches; this, to me, illustrates how Lucy is trying to process everything. Lord also uses details to anchor important moments and make them stand out, such as in the first chapter when Lucy’s parents deliver the bad news and when Lucy is thinking through things, particularly her relationship with God, throughout the book.
Few young adult novels cover faith and religion as well as they should; most feature atheist or agnostic characters, and any Christians present are stereotypically self-righteous, hypocritical, and judgmental. Lucy, her parents, and Henry—the primary Christian characters—are none of those things. Lucy’s faith is of course shaken by the recurrence of her mother’s cancer, but she tries on several occasions to hold onto her relationship with God. Lucy’s mother is a good source of wisdom; her faith seems steady throughout The Names They Gave Us, despite the pain she goes through. Mrs. Hansson is one of my favorite parts of the novel. Henry, who has experienced grief, too, also speaks words of wisdom. Lucy asks at one point if he regained his faith after his anger with God, and he responds, “All that church stuff seemed black and white when I was little—easy. And now it’s gray, but I…choose it anyway, I guess” (237). The fact that he chooses it makes all the difference, and I think it’s good for readers to see fellow teenagers exploring religious questions.
Speaking of Henry, he and Lucy form a good friendship and then a blossoming romance. He is caring, giving, and friendly, and he challenges Lucy to think, share, and learn. Yet, he is also respectful of her boundaries, both because he knows of her recent break-up and because of who he is as a person. Yet, when their romance finally takes off about three-fourths of the way through, it is as satisfying and well written as the rest of the novel.
There are about fifteen s-words and five f-bombs, and most of them felt like they weren't too gratuitous.
The Verdict: Probably my second favorite of Emery's books (if anything can displace The Start of Me and You, it'll be a miracle). So worth the read.
The Names They Gave Us was so freaking good. It was raw and emotional, and of course the writing was lovely, just like every other Emery Lord book. I’ll admit the beginning was just a bit slow, but it truly was amazing!
Honestly I don’t even know what happened, but this whole cast of characters felt so authentic to me. Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for friends who support and love each other, yeah, yeah, I love it. This group of friends – Lucy, Anna, Jones, Keely, Mohan – were so inspiring, and this is so rare to find in YA.
"And I want to be one of them. I want to be one of them so, so badly -- to fit into this balance, their history, the wolf pack way of them."
Lucy Hansson, the daughter of a preacher, has grown up with her faith, she relies on it to get her through tough times, like when her mom gets diagnosed with breast cancer for a second time. She’s looking forward to spending the summer with her parents at their church camp, but soon decides to volunteer as a counselor at a camp for troubled kids after her mom begs her to.
Lucy’s beliefs, and her doubts, do play a big part in story but it’s never overwhelming. There’s not a whole lot happening plot wise, but like I said the characters are very fleshed out and diverse. They are the reason you’ll love this book. Lucy is by no means perfect, but she’s accepting and open-minded though she can be naïve at times. Watching her evolve and make these new friendships was so wonderful to read about. There is also a romance here, and I’ll just say that it’s very… sweet. It never takes over the story, but it is an added perk to the book and it’ll keep you smiling throughout.
This story does deal with a lot of heavy topics, and not just Lucy but all the characters, and I hope everyone gives it a chance. You’ll definitely be dealing with a whole range of emotions.
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