Sunday 9 July 2017

A Review: Emery Lord's The Names They Gave Us

Hi, and thanks for stopping by.

Emery Lord's The Names They Gave Us is absolutely one of the best books I've read so far in 2017. I'd heard lots of brilliant things about it, which had me inspired during my latest trip to Waterstones. I am so glad I listened to the hype! Here's a detailed review, including all my thoughts and favourite parts. Have you read this book yet? What did you think?

"Bones can snap. Skin is like paper. And I just want to go back. I want to go back to when it felt like nothing could hurt me."

It makes most sense to me to start by talking about the mother-daughter relationship in this book, and the way in which Emery Lord deals with cancer as a topic. This relationship was the absolute heart of the story - completely stunning. Possibly one of the most emotional, realistic mother-daughter relationships I have ever come across. I have to say also, on a personal level, as a daughter whose mother has been battling cancer for several years now, this was written with modesty, care, sympathy, good humour and hope. It was never idealised or unrealistic, just 100% raw and real. The love they had for each other simply flowed off of the page. On SO MANY occasions, I found myself relating to each and every thought Lucy had (in particular, the quotes I have chosen for this post, hence why some are a little longer than those I usually pick out). I also thought the backstory of Lucy's mum (I won't go into details, don't want to spoil it!) was incredibly clever and added a totally unexpected twist to the story. Helped me to understand how she was such a resilient, accepting, brave person.

"I think I might die if you die. I'll never get over it, not even when I'm forty and have kids of my own. And if heaven is real, I can't wait all those years to see you again."

I also really appreciated the portrayal of Lucy's father, particularly in a religious sense. I've never read a book that handles religion like this one. It was so heartwarming and unique to read about Christianity in such a positive, uplifting way. Lucy's dad, whilst at the heart of the faith, was shown as so soft, so human - liberal & accepting. I really appreciated Lucy's own struggle with her faith after her mother's cancer returns - it was such an accurate, understandable reaction - and the jokes made throughout were genuinely funny. The slow progress she makes throughout towards redefining her relationship with Christianity was actually really beautiful to read about.

Speaking of those aforementioned jokes, the humour throughout this book, particularly considering how heartbreakingly sad it was in moments, was some of the best I remember reading. It is truly rare that I laugh out loud at a book, but I find myself constantly grinning and giggling like an idiot whilst reading this. Special mention must go to Mohan for this, although, genuinely, all characters had their moments in the comedy spotlight, I think. Lucy's mum was a surprisingly funny character, and Aunt Rachel, too, although, be warned, there's some rather "black" comedy moments involving cancer jokes (hilarious moments really, but just be aware if you're sensitive to this sort of thing). 

"These things don't even matter in the big scheme of who she is. But I don't think I can live without them."

The romance between Lucy and Henry/Jones was a real subtle, slow burn, which I loved. It was also really nice that they were friends first, and for quite a while. I also loved the hilarious flirtation, Lucy's self-deprecating embarrassment and those butterfly moments. Jones was flawed in places as a person (no perfect YA boy here, thankfully), but so good at heart, and very realistic. The moment when he played trumpet for Lucy's mum had me VERY choked up.

"After all, there was once a girl named Lucy, who loved her family, old and new."

The friendship in this book was BEAUTIFUL - man, don't we ALL need a Daybreak camp crew? What a bunch of incredible people, incredible friends. It was a complete delight to see such representation, too - race, sexuality, mental health, class, upbringing, religion. Also, incredible to see so many young survivors. The examples of resilience in this book are overwhelming and bound to remind you of the strong, inspiring people in your own life whilst reading (certainly did for me!!).

"It changes you. You can be okay again. Just a different kind of okay than before."

Finally, a brief shoutout to the gorgeous little campers at Daybreak. These young girls we are introduced to are utterly heartwarming. Once again, the most wonderful examples of representation, bravery, faith and determination. Special mention to Thuy - hearing about her learning to swim, learning to trust and having confidence in herself made me so surprisingly emotional! I think maybe because she sort of reminds me of me when I was her age!!!

Clearly, I can't gush enough about this beautiful bloody book. You HAVE to read it. Please. I have no doubt it'll be on my top books of 2017 list, maybe even right up there at the top. Completely perfect from start to finish. Thank you, Emery Lord, for writing this.

"It is not the type of love that ends."

Till next week


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