We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Title: We Are Okay
Author: Nina LaCour
Series: N/A
Pages: 234
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Release Date: February 14th 2017

      “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.

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“I wonder if there’s a secret current that connects people who have lost something. Not in the way that everyone loses something, but in the way that undoes your life, undoes your self, so that when you look at your face it isn’t yours anymore.”

Nina LaCour’s We Are Okay explores one girl’s emotional journey as she grapples with loss, grief, and ultimately the first steps toward closure. It’s been months since Marin’s grandfather passed away, since she lost the only family she had left. Months since she walked away from her old life, leaving behind a best friend who had only begun to be something more. Now at school in New York City, Marin has been trying to forget her past, but one visit from her former best friend Mabel will change everything.

There are books you walk your way through and ones you feel your way through. We Are Okay falls into the latter category. LaCour’s novel focuses heavily on internal conflict as readers follow Marin as she copes with seeing Mabel for the first time in months. At first Marin is desperate to hide how she is, but her relationship with Mabel makes it impossible for her to put up a convincing front. Using various flashbacks, LaCour pieces together the protagonist’s past, giving context to not only her relationship with her grandfather but to Mabel. There’s an underlining tension to every interaction between the two old friends. More important than what is said is what isn’t. When Marin skipped town without a word to anyone, she left Mabel hurt and confused. Their romantic relationship was just in its beginning stages, they hadn’t yet defined what they were, but it’s clear they were in love with each other. These past feelings are made even more complicated by Mabel’s new relationship and the fact that Marin herself hasn’t been able to move on.

Marin’s relationship with her grandfather was unconventional at best. Though she remembers his lectures fondly, there was always something missing between the two of them. The only true link she had with her mother, Marin’s grandfather has never been very open about his daughter. Marin lost her mother at a very young age and her memories of her are not concrete. It’s clear that many people loved her, but these are strangers and Marin would rather hear about her mother from someone close. Marin and her grandfather function more like roommates and though their separate lives may seem unusual to everyone else, it’s all Marin has ever known.

Nina LaCour’s We Are Okay is an emotionally gripping novel: quiet in its intensity, but still manages to pack a punch.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★

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13 thoughts on “We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

  1. Based on the cover, I would think this was a graphic novel. In fact, based on the plot you describe, a graphic medium might have really helped the story. I’m already thinking about panels with washed out colors and few words, lots of emotions on faces, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I always love to read your perspective on books with so much mix reviews. I have such a soft spot for children who grow up w/o a mother figure. But, the relation that Marin has with her grandfather, though unusual, seems sweet and endearing. Great review, Alicia!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Completely side thought: That’s so awesome how you have the sign up heading over the banner. Why didn’t I think of that? You’re a natural designer. 😀 And, love the BoC banner below CC banner, too. Please join again if life permits. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: The Friday 56: We Are Okay | A Kernel of Nonsense

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