Monday, May 15, 2017

*Blog Tour* The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

I am thrilled to be kicking off the Canadian blog tour for Emery Lord's The Names They Gave Us. This incredible book will be in stores tomorrow and I am so excited to help celebrate its release.

As part of the tour we each got to ask Emery a question so be sure to stop by the other tour stops to see what everyone asked her (and, of course, more reviews of this wonderful novel).

My question for Emery was ...

Your books always make me think of summer. Since this one takes place at a summer camp, what books are on your summer camp reading list?

and her answer was ...

I actually haven’t read a TON of summer camp books. One that I thought was quiet and so thoughtful was BREAKFAST SERVED ANYTIME. This quote from it isn’t about summer camp, but isn’t it so great?

“I guess what I'm trying to say is that sometimes you can love a book not so much because of what it's about or what happens in it, but because it belongs to a certain time or person in your life- like you'll always remember where you were when you read it for the first time, or who gave it to you, or what season it was, or who you were before you read it and how you were different when it was over.” 

That is a fantastic quote, and now I immediately want to pick up Breakfast Served Anytime.

I also have an excerpt to share which hopefully makes you want to rush out and get yourself a copy when the bookstores open tomorrow.

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
Release Date -  May 16, 2017
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 400 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters—in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp—one for troubled kids—Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?
When I first read the synopsis of Emery Lord's newest novel two things stayed with me - the word 'cancer' and the word 'religion'. Both are things that make me hesitant to pick up a novel. However, since it was Emery writing it, and she is an auto buy author for me, I knew I was going to take a chance with this one. This ended up being one of the best reading decisions I have ever made. The Names They Gave Us is a cancer book. It is also a book about religion. It also happens to be neither of these things. What you do have is a novel that is a mix of tears, summer, wishes on stars, perfectly made s'mores, and (obviously) more tears.

Cancer and religion are a large part of who Lucy is, but it is not all she is. There is a perfect balance between all the elements within the novel. There isn't too much of any one thing. As a result, Lucy is a well rounded, and well crafted character. Those concerned that cancer or religious elements may overshadow the story can rest assured that this is not the case. It is handed brilliantly, and only in relation to Lucy's experience with both of these things.  As her mom's cancer returns, her faith in the religion she has always sought solace in is shaken. Her journey through regaining some of that faith, and what form that may take, is threaded throughout the whole story but it isn't THE story. This really is a story of a girl learning to define things for herself at its heart. She is discovering who is she, and that will resonate with everyone.

Emery always crafts these incredible friendships as the core of her novels. She creates the kind of friendships that you wish to be part of. They tend to be established before the events of the novel and that has always made me a little envious of her characters. In Lucy we see someone who has not had those deep friendships either. We get to see her bond with people and create those lasting friendships. It is a friendship that is made from summer nights by the bonfire, secrets shared while drinking moonshine, and new experiences. It is one of the most satisfying elements of the story. I always finish Emery's novels thinking the friendships were even more important than the romance, and that is not always the case with contemporary novels. Her friendships are so complex and developed that they are a love story all on their own.

The romance is pretty swoon worthy though. It is perfectly paced with a friendship that builds to something more. It had me with the little moments they spend together where not much happens, except you can feel them growing closer. Music is a large part of what bonds them and it is the pulse for many of their most romantic moments. Emery always writes these wonderful love interests who are decent guys and it is something I am thankful for. Her novels have given very different examples of supportive, caring love interests which is such a great example for teens readers to have.

A novel that breaks your heart, but heals it too. A novel that will make you cry, but in a cathartic way. It is a story filled with hope, even when everything seems dark. Emery Lord has once again slayed me with her beautiful writing and characters. If you are a contemporary young adult reader and are not reading her novels you need to fix this immediately. She is consistently providing novels that have a strong emotional impact and just a little bit of magic within their pages. 

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