Title: We Are Okay
Author: Nina LaCour
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Release Date: February 14th 2017
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.