I've read When World Collide before and I absolutely loved Emery Lord's way of writing and the complex characters she creates. The Names They Gave Us is no exception to that, with the main character Lucy stealing my heart from the very first page.
Lucy's summer before senior year of high school is unlike any she has had before - her mother has been diagnosed, for the second time, with cancer. However, unlike the first time when Lucy wouldn't leave her mother's side, this time her mother wants her to be a counsellor at Daybreak, a summer camp for troubled children. While Lucy initially doesn't want to do this, she does it for her mother, and discovers a lot about her own troubles through working with the kids.
A lot of reviewers bring up the faith aspect of The Names They Gave Us and yes, this is a book mostly about faith. I wouldn't even say religion, even though Lucy's father is a pastor and she helps her parents at church champ most summers of her life. While Lucy starts off very religious, her mother's reoccurring cancer makes her question everything she thought she knew. This book really cycles her person belief system and how to find the strength to overcome your worst nightmare. I actually thought this aspect was refreshing, since there aren't many YA novels that focus on religion, faith and inner spirituality. Emery Lord approached this topic in an open-minded way that I think can be really helpful for a lot of teenagers.
The only thing I have to say negatively about this book is just a frustration at the ending. EMERY LORD, WHAT DID YOU DO? I won't say anymore, but be warned: the ending will leave you wanting more. In the best way possible, because it's hard to let Lucy go.
And even if you're not religious or too interested in faith, this book is a five star. Like I said, Lucy is so engaging, and as always with Emery Lord, there is a swoon-worthy boy in Henry who will make your heart skip a beat. It's filled with summer, friends, helping, swimming, music, dancing, basically anything a summer should be, contrasted with the harsh reality of the day-to-day life of Lucy and her family. I can't recommend this enough if you want to end your summer both laughing and crying.