reviews

Review | We Are Okay

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Genre: Contemporary | Diversity: queer MC, Latinx love interest | My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Blurb

28243032Marin 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.

My Review

We Are Okay is the kind of short novel that you could read in a matter of hours, but it sticks with you long after you’ve put it down. The story follows college freshman Marin, alone in her dorm room over winter break, as her best friend Mabel arrives from California, forcing Marin to confront her grief over losing her grandfather.

Nina LaCour’s poignant writing about grief is amazing.

This is my second read from Nina LaCour and I was not disappointed. She has a real gift for using simple language with beautiful descriptions. Every single word matters, and each one works together to create emotions in the reader. For a short book (it’s about 230 pages), I never once felt that things were rushed or not dealt with adequately.

Although the main storyline takes place over the course of three days, it’s mostly about Marin’s grieving process. Right before moving to New York for college, Marin’s grandfather drowned. Since then, she’s worked very hard at essentially not confronting her feelings, for reasons that become clear as you read the story.

This isn’t a plot-driven book whatsoever. Instead, it’s emotionally driven by Marin’s thoughts, memories, and grieving process.

The alternating past/present storyline develops Marin’s character both before and after losing Gramps.

If you know me, you know I’m a sucker for this narrative style. While Mabel struggles to get Marin to talk about her feelings in the present tense section, the past narrative follows Marin as she graduates high school and enters her final summer at home in San Francisco. In these sections, we get glimpses of her relationship with Gramps: mostly, the two keep to themselves, valuing each other’s privacy over sharing intimate details.

Marin never knew her mom, either, as Claire died of a surfing injury when Marin was too little to form memories. In the present, Marin struggles to grieve her grandfather, despite feeling a wide variety of feelings about their life together.

This isn’t a story about queerness.

While I read this book for the lesbian rep, We Are Okay isn’t really about being queer. Marin likes girls. She and Mabel were romantically involved over the summer—but the story isn’t about their relationship or Marin coming out.

I actually really enjoyed this aspect. Neither of the girls uses labels for their sexualities, either because labels aren’t important to them, or because it never comes up. While you can pretty easily read Marin as lesbian, Mabel is now dating a guy. As much as I would’ve loved to have the words “lesbian” and “bisexual” used, I did appreciate that Mabel’s decision to date a guy after dating a girl isn’t questioned or subjected to any sort of biphobia.

Ultimately, this is a book about grief, and about family—whether it’s your biological family, or the ones who bring you into their fold when you need it most.

overall: highly recommend.

I could’ve read this book in one sitting, but I really tried to savor every word. It’s definitely one I’ll read again at some point. The deceptively simple language combined with the raw, honest portrayal of grief, made for a heart-wrenching experience. For anyone who’s lost someone close to them—or even someone experiencing serious depression—I think this book will help you feel less alone.

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

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Have you read We Are Okay? What are some of your favorite books that tackle grief? Let’s talk in the comments! 

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13 thoughts on “Review | We Are Okay”

  1. “For anyone who’s lost someone close to them—or even someone experiencing serious depression—I think this book will help you feel less alone.” – everyone needs a book that makes them feel less alone! Great review!

    1. Thank you ❤ You're absolutely right. To some extent, I think we all read to feel less alone in the world, whether it's through reading experiences similar to our own, or finding ourselves in experiences that are so different from our lives.

      1. I realize now that I worded it inappropriately. While, yes, everyone reads to feel less alone, I actually meant to appreciate how beautiful your expressed which people this particular book would help the most. Sorry for bungling it!

    1. I forgot to mention this in the review, but there’s a bit in the acknowledgements about how the author’s partner encouraged her to write about her own experiences with grief. You can definitely tell reading it that it comes from the heart, which is so important in any emotional/mental health type of story.

  2. I know you already know how much I loved this book, but I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH. The way Nina Lacour managed to put my jumbled up thoughts and feelings into words that made sense made me feel less alone. I absolutely loved the tone of it too. Every time I see a review saying this was “boring” or whatever I get so angry because like!!!!!! YOU MISSED THE POINT!!!!!!! haha. Amazing review, Christine ♥

    1. I mean, I totally get if they went into it expecting a romance or a plot-based story. But I don’t know how you could get the wrong idea about it based on reading the synopsis either. Just because something is completely character-driven doesn’t mean it’s boring either! Inner exploration and change is one of my favorite aspects of stories, and it’s especially important when you’re dealing with something like grief or depression.

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