The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord follows Lucy Hansson, a teenage girl who seems to have her life completely put together. With her amazing swimming skills, supportive family, and sweet boyfriend, everything seems to be going perfectly for her. That is, until her mom’s cancer reappears. This situation launches a completely different Lucy to come out of her shell, one where she would challenge everything that she has always known, including her family’s very strong religious beliefs. Lucy is sent to work as a counselor at camp for troubled kids, called Daybreak, where she learns about accepting others, strength, and perseverance. Each person at this camp, whether that be an adult or child, has their own unique experiences that completely change Lucy’s life forever.
This novel was written to challenge the idea of faith. While Lucy’s struggle with her belief in God is a strong theme of the novel, Emery Lord did not write about religion in a way that could be offensive or forced upon the readers. Anyone, with any sets of beliefs, can read this story and take something away from it, whether that be acceptance or coping with grief. The book tackles many other important themes, such as family, love, and loss, that help you understand each of the complex characters introduced at Daybreak.
This book should be a story that everyone reads at some point during their life. It opens up your mind, and your heart, to many different situations and people from different walks of life than your own.
The quote, “Human hearts are like noble little ants, able to carry so much more weight than you’d expect” captures the essences of this story, and represents the novel as a whole (Lord 381).
The book shows the importance of communication, mental health, and acceptance. The exploration of these topics is why I would recommend this book for anyone who struggles with aspects of their life, or someone who just wants to learn more about the challenges others might face.
Author: Sophia Susino