Review Blog

Jul 06 2017

The names they gave us by Emery Lord

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Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781408877814
(Age: 14+) Recommended. A coming of age story about summer camp and girlhood - a high school senior and bible camp graduate becomes a counsellor at a camp for young disadvantaged children. When Lucy Hansson's mother's cancer returns despite all of Lucy's prayers and bargains with God, she begins to act out in response to her faltering faith. Her equally devout boyfriend, Lucas, dumps her. Her mother wants to spare Lucy the worst of her cancer treatment and asks her to work at the summer camp she herself attended as a troubled teen.
At camp Daybreak Lucy sees how the less fortunate live and becomes protective of her young charges. The extraordinary camaraderie between counsellors is a bonus. At camp, Lucy learns about her mother's past and she falls for Jones. Henry Jones not only shares her love of music, but unlike her ex-boyfriend Lucas, he can truly connect with her emotionally.
The summer lurches from one drama to another as the minor characters are fleshed out through a gambit of themes - child abuse, bullying, intolerance, anxiety, death, teenage pregnancy and more. Daybreak distracts Lucy from the tragedy unfolding in her own perfect Christian family - but ironically exposes their dark secrets.
Through this unforgettable narrative, Lucy stays true to her identity but develops a newfound understanding of both human frailty and boundless spirit. Readers will soar and cry with Lucy and her fellow counsellors. Perhaps some will even feel inspired to search for happiness, not in self-absorption but in the service of others.
Deborah Robins

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