I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Also by this author: Everything Leads to You, Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories
Published by Penguin on February 14th 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Social Themes, Death & Dying, Friendship, LGBT
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From the award-winning author of Hold Still comes an achingly beautiful novel about grief and the enduring power of friendship
“So lonely and beautiful that I could hardly breathe. This is a perfect book.” – Stephanie Perkins, bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss
“As beautiful as the best memories, as sad as the best songs, as hopeful as your best dreams.”– Siobhan Vivian, bestselling author of The Last Boy and Girl in the World
You go through life thinking there’s so much you need. . . . Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother. Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart. An intimate whisper that packs an indelible punch, We Are Okay is Nina LaCour at her finest. This gorgeously crafted and achingly honest portrayal of grief will leave you urgent to reach across any distance to reconnect with the people you love.
Advance praise for We Are Okay “You can feel every peak and valley of Marin’s emotional journey on your skin, in your gut. Beautifully written, heartfelt, and deeply real.” – Adi Alsaid, author of Never Always Sometimes and Let’s Get Lost ★ “Exquisite.” – Kirkus, starred review★ “LaCour paints a captivating depiction of loss, bewilderment, and emotional paralysis . . . raw and beautiful.” – Booklist, starred review★ “Beautifully crafted . . . . A quietly moving, potent novel.” – School Library Journal, starred review★ “A moving portrait of a girl struggling to rebound after everything she’s known has been thrown into disarray.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour is the sort of book that gets under your skin and sticks with it. It seeps into your heart and as you read it, you find yourself really feeling what main character Marin feels. I found LaCour’s latest book to be a quiet read about loneliness, grief, and being an island unto one’s self. Then, finally, healing. I do not know if you can tell or not, but I just really loved the slim little book that was We Are Okay.
Marin has fled from her life long home in San Francisco, California for college in Dutchess County, NY. As a person from NY, but not Dutchess county, I am going to guess her college is Vassar as Marin doesn’t seem the sort to go to a school like Marist. So, anyways, Marin is at college, her roommate is leaving for the winter break.
It is just Marin at the school by herself. Everyone else has left, even the international students. The only person still on the campus is the groundskeeper. Marin will not be alone for too long though, her friend Mabel comes for a visit. There we see that Mabel and Marin have a complicated history as friends and lovers. We also slowly learn why the death of Marin’s grandfather, her last known living relative, has caused Marin to unravel at bit.
Marin has quite the emotional journey. I know, I know that sounds super cliche. Hear me out though. In the beginning of the book she has this cork bulletin board. There’s literally nothing on her board. Compare this to her roommate who has a board that is covered in photos and inside jokes. Marin’s grief is just so deep that she can’t penetrate it to put things up on the board. To see her finally put something on that board is major. Actually, come to think of it, We Are Okay is a very introspective novel and either you’re going to be on board with Marin and the healing she must do or you’re going to be bored because you came for octane and got something else. Also, note that Marin is a lesbian.
Mabel is really the other major character in Nina LaCour’s We Are Okay. As mentioned, Mabel and Marin went from friends to lovers. However, Mabel is not visiting Marin as a lover would. Instead, she’s there to find out why Marin never responded to her text messages and closed herself off from the people who love her and wanted to help her. She wanted to know why Mabel ran away to New York to college early and stayed in a dingy hotel, instead of with people who care about her. Mabel is there to convince Marin to come home to California for Christmas and to stay with Mabel’s family. I can’t fault Mabel for trying with Marin, nor for her kindness. Also, if you want to read a book with a major character who is bisexual and that is not erased – well, here you go.
I think that Nina LaCour really nails the complexities of grief quite well in We Are Okay. There’s stages, yes, and they are presented here. Grief is hard and it is not just something that you can wake up and force yourself to be over. It hits you again and again in waves. I think if you’ve experienced any kind of loss, you’ll find yourself able to relate to this book. If not, you might find it a bit boring and maybe even stifling. However, there’s a core audience for this book and I can see that it brings so much value to the table. There’s a lot I am leaving out in my review, but know, I just want you to experience this book in the way that I did — without knowing too much going in.
Other reviews of We Are Okay by Nina LaCour:
- For What It’s Worth – “a gorgeous book“
- Pure Imagination – “just as lovely and sad as I expected“
- Midnight Book Girl – “you will feel things“
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