Okay, so I’m writing this review literally half an hour after having finished the book–mainly because this book gutted me. I’m a roller coaster of emotions right now and I need to talk about it while it’s still fresh.
I am of course talking of the emotional whirlwind that is Nina LaCour’s new novel, We Are Okay.
Side note: I’m kind of reminded of the lyrics of Taylor Swift’s All Too Well, “And I might be okay, but I’m not fine at all”. That’s a little how I’m feeling after reading this book. I read most of it sitting in the middle of a bookstore and was actually fighting back tears. Consider yourself warned if you read this one in public, y’all.
Anyway, here’s the blurb:
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.
I have yet to read a Nina LaCour book that I didn’t love, and I honestly don’t expect that will ever happen. Everything Leads to You is just amazing, and I’ve already talked about how You Know Me Well (co-written with David Levithan) was my favourite LGBTQ+ YA book of 2016.
We Are Okay, however, is on a whole different level. This book is just so raw and emotional and it will make you feel things. Marin has left her life in San Francisco behind and finds herself alone in New York with nothing but her phone, wallet and a picture of the mother she doesn’t remember.
The book flashes between present day and the the last four months leading up to when Marin left for New York. It tells us of her life with the grandfather that raised her, a man who was still a stranger to her in so many ways. It tells us of her friendship and relationship with Mabel and the rift that now exists between them.
More than anything, this is a story about a lonely girl who is so filled with grief. She is trying to pretend she is okay, but she is really far from it. This is a book about loneliness and how you just need to get away sometimes. But this is also a book about finding yourself, about healing and hope and love and finding ways to be okay.
This book is just so honest and real. It is heartbreaking and breathtaking and it will break you and then slowly put you back together all over again as you make your way through it. This is the book that I needed to read today and I didn’t even know it.