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We Are Okay Hardcover – February 14, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Her first semester of college behind her, Marin stays alone in the dorms over break, even with the threat of a snowstorm looming, rather than return to San Francisco, where bad memories lurk. Her best friend Mabel comes to stay with her, and over the next few days, Marin contemplates the events of last spring and summer and deals with her complicated relationship with Mabel. Slowly, readers learn more about Marin's life: the surfer mother who drowned when Marin was young, the father she never knew, the loving grandfather who raised her but whose concealed secrets kept a wall between them, and the painful events that sent Marin fleeing San Francisco. LaCour's use of settings is masterly: frigid and desolate upstate New York reflects Marin's alienation, while vibrant San Francisco evokes moments of joy. Though there's little action, with most of the writing devoted to Marin's memories, thoughts, and musings, the author's nuanced and sensitive depiction of the protagonist's complex and turbulent inner life makes for a rich narrative. Marin is a beautifully crafted character, and her voice is spot-on, conveying isolation, grief, and, eventually, hope. With hauntingly spare prose, the emphasis on the past, and references to gothic tales such as The Turning of the Screw and Jane Eyre, this is realistic fiction edged with the melancholy tinge of a ghost story. VERDICT A quietly moving, potent novel that will appeal to teens, especially fans of Laurie Halse Anderson and Sara Zarr.—Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal
Praise for We Are Okay
“A meditation on surviving grief, We Are Okay is short, poetic and gorgeously written…. The power in this little book is in seeing Marin come out on the other side of loss, able to appreciate a beautiful yellow-glazed pottery bowl and other people’s kindnesses, and to understand that she might one day have a girlfriend and a future. The world LaCour creates is fragile but profoundly humane.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A beautiful, devastating piece of art. . . .The title hints at a happy ending, but the journey toward it passes through some of the darkest corners of the heart. Be prepared to be gutted—and grateful. We Are Okay is an extraordinary work by an author who keeps redefining and elevating her genre." —Bookpage
“Nina LaCour treats her emotions so beautifully and with such empathy. Of course, we'd expect nothing less from the stunning LaCour.” —Bustle
★ “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
★"Bittersweet and hopeful . . . poetic and skillfully crafted." —Shelf Awareness, starred review
“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 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
MORE PRAISE FOR NINA LACOUR
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults (2010); 2010 William C. Morris Honor Book
★ “LaCour makes an impressive debut with an emotionally charged young adult novel about friendship and loss.” — Publishers Weekly
“LaCour strikes a new path through a familiar story, leading readers with her confident writing and savvy sense of prose.” — Kirkus
“The book is written with honesty, revealing one's pain after the loss of a loved one.” — SLJ
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults (2013); Kirkus Best Teen Book of 2012; A Publishers Weekly Best Summer Book
★ "This is about the inside and outside of characters, the past and future of their lives--and it is astonishing." —Booklist
"Quietly compelling . . . well rendered, bittersweet and hopeful." —Los Angeles Times
★ "A rich tapestry that will make readers confident that they are in the hands of a master storyteller. . . . . Hauntingly beautiful." —Kirkus
★ "LaCour skillfully draws connections between art and life as she delves into the heart of her characters." —Publishers Weekly
★"Bittersweet and hopeful . . . poetic and skillfully crafted." —Shelf Awareness
★ "LaCour's writing style is laid-back, low key, and totally on point." —VOYA
Everything Leads to You:
★ "Underneath the privilege surges real pain, longing, and feeling in a way that makes it easy to imagine this novel as a film." — Publishers Weekly
Top customer reviews
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We Are Okay was one of those stories for me.
I bought this on impulse as a sort of end-of-summer present for myself back in August, reasoning that 1) it was small, so it would fit in my suitcase, 2) it had an absolutely stunning cover, so even if I didn’t like it I could enjoy staring at it on my shelf, and 3) I’ve been meaning to finally read one of Nina LaCour’s books for ages now.
So when I moved into my dorm room this semester, when I unpacked my single suitcase and did my best to make the bare shelves and blank walls look full, I propped this book up on a shelf. I meant to read it right away, but I got sucked into the cycle of busyness and stress that is college in China. When I did finally pick it up, it was a chilly November afternoon and I REALLY should have been working on assignments……but something about the writing seemed to surgically insert itself into this place in my heart that didn’t realize just how much I needed this book until that moment and I. Just. Couldn’t. Stop.
This book is a lot of things, but above all, the word I’d use to describe it is quiet. It’s snow falling through the night, it’s lying in bed and staring at the tiny cracks in your ceiling, it’s sitting in comfortable silence with a friend and feeling completely understood.
I don’t even want to discuss the plot here, because I think this book works its magic best without any expectations or assumptions getting in the way. I have seen a few other reviews that claim this book is boring, and while I don’t want to say that anyone who felt that way is wrong……I think perhaps they may not have been able to understand and connect with what it was really about. This is NOT by any means a plot-driven book. It’s a softer, more emotional portrait of isolation and grief and loneliness and grappling with the realization that maybe you’re not the person you used to be, and maybe you never were in the first place.
Marin’s story is split between her current life—alone at college in New York, and her previous life—living with her grandfather in California. I loved the juxtaposition of these two environments, the way her past is given time to unravel and settle, and especially the way her friendship and romance with Mabel were written.
I also want to note that although there is a f/f relationship, this is not by any means a romance. This is the kind of book that starts off strong but still mostly unassuming, tiptoeing around you so gently that you don’t realize just how wrapped up in it you are until it’s 11pm and you’re crying in your room and your friends are knocking on your door asking if you’re going to be able to get over your book feels in time to go clubbing with them.
So yeah, I really loved this one.
Content warnings: depression, death of a parental figure
After reading the Acknowledgements and the author's own loss, I can see why this reads like an overindulgent grief journal... a meditation on loss with virtually no plot. I'm sure it was very cathartic for the author to write. All memories and emotion and wallowing in poor me pain. Not saying there isn't some lovely, poetic writing here with a pile of quotation candidates for a page in 1001 Quotes on Depression (gave it an extra star for the writing). I even liked that the author made some interesting points that we too often take on the behaviors and coping mechanisms of our family members (Gramps and lead are a heck of a lot alike).
It was just too boring for the most part. Very, very repetitive stuff. We slooooooooowly glide through this novel as flashbacks sloooooooooooowly unfold what happened to the poor little match girl. I get super irate being trapped in boring books that do things I HATE. Like, pretend to be a real F/F book. Like, have terrible, unrealistic endings and undeveloped characters. Honestly, I'm kinda surprised a real lesbian wrote this. :(
Two MAJOR irritants (SPOILERS AHEAD):
1) Lead appears to be a lesbian (no labels claimed in this story) and her ex appears to be a bisexual. All normalized and that's a positive. BUT. This is really a story about friendship and recovery and there isn't much focus beyond that. It's more about being lost and alone than being queer. I could be okay with that, almost... if it didn't rub the cliche het stuff and dysfunctional lesbian stereotype in my face cuz I just wasn't in the mood for that, man. :( Ex moves on to be with a dude. So know that happy normal Bi girl ends up with a dude she's madly in love with and SHE gets the happily ever after soul mate while messed up lesbian must be alone to lick her wounds. Sorry, but I just hate these sorts of storylines. Too overdone and depressing. I just can't tolerate them anymore.
2) Lead gets her happily ever after, in a sense, so no worries (see: title). It just isn't with another woman. If you can swallow a cliche-terrible and unrealistic portrayal of a Hispanic family then maybe you won't mind the end. Her happiness comes in the form of a new family-- her ex's fam takes her in. Because she has none and needs that more than a girlfriend. And because Hispanic ex has a savior La Virgen de Guadalupe mother who wants her to be her daughter (even if she has boinked her real daughter). So basically the two girls are gonna end up sisters, not girlfriends in the end. After once being lovers. Nothing weird about that... nope.
Sorry, this author just weirds out the story too much for me to enjoy. When I wasn't fully bored, that is. LGBT+ teens deserve better stories than this pile of destitute dysfunctional everyone dies but the kitchen sink or ends up with a dude BS....
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Genre: Young Adult.
Number of Pages: 256.
Perspective: First.Read more