The Names They Gave Us

The Names They Gave Us - Emery Lord

I was surprised that this novel got such high reviews considering the religious component that the synopsis addressed. I have been reading YA novels for a while now and I haven’t found many novels that religion plays such an important role. As I read this novel, religion wasn’t something that could be ignored. I found that it wasn’t preachy or demanding, it was there and Lucy needed to find where it fit in her life. She was a teen, who was addressing other responsibilities and concerns in her life and religion was just another issue that needed to be addressed. She had grown up immersed in church activities as her father was a pastor but now things in Lucy’s life have just recently changed and Lucy’s priorities needed to be adjusted. I didn’t mind the religious aspect of this novel but it was something that ran throughout the novel.

 

Lucy’s parents run a summer church camp for children and Lucy helps her parents each summer with the campers. Lucy has been spending a great deal of time with her parents, as her mother has been recently diagnosed with cancer but this summer her mother wants her to be a counselor at Camp Daybreak. How can Lucy help her mother if she is down the road being a counselor at the hippie camp? Reluctantly, as a favor to her mom, Lucy arrives at Camp Daybreak but she is reluctant to show anyone who she really is. It’s painful to watch Lucy in the corner, as the campers enjoy their day at camp. She’s miserable, I know she has so much to offer these kids but she is wallowing in her self-pity. Lucy slowly learns to let go and be herself as the days pass and she starts to warm up to individuals around her. Lucy starts to learn that she is okay with these campers and that she is like everyone else. Just by letting her wall down, this powerful move is a great start for Lucy. It opens doors for her. I wondered at times about Lucy’s maturity as I read for she seems so immature on certain subjects, I wondered if she was sheltered when she was younger. All through the novel, I could see Lucy changing and at the end of the novel, Lucy was a different girl, a girl who was willing and able to accept new ideas and be adventurous.