Hi friends! Because it feels like it’s been absolutely forever since I’ve written a book review, I went back to look at my most recent one for a little bit of a refresher on how to start these things off, and I’ve noticed that I start a good majority of my posts with, “Happy *insert holiday/weekday here*!”
That said, after a quick Google search, I wish you a happy National Love a Tree Day, National Sea Monkey Day, National Do Something Good for Your Neighbor Day, and Honor Our LGBTQ Elders Day.
Okay, so I’m procrastinating this review.
But for good reasons, I promise.
Truth be told, I wasn’t even going to write a review for We Are Okay; I’ve been in a reading/blogging funk as of late, and I wanted the feeling of reading a book without having to put much thought behind it and try to form somewhat coherent words. But, I was about 50 pages in and realized that I needed to tell the world about this book.
Synopsis: 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.
Generally speaking, I thought that We Are Okay was such a genuine piece of stunning art. And, the longer I looked at that stunning piece of art, I started making more and more realizations about it.
Nina LaCour’s writing is unlike anything else I’ve encountered. Yes, this is a fictional book filled with prose, but it feels like lyrical poetry. Reading it, you can tell that each word was chosen incredibly deliberately. In my copy of the book, there’s an introductory note from Nicola Yoon, and I think she says it best: “Nina’s prose is spare and joyous and fresh. Each sentence feels like something newly come to life.” Everything said in the book, whether be it a small side comment or a big turn of events, each word carries a significant amount of weight. Things are said easily and casually, but there’s so much underneath that. This is an iceberg, my friends, and we’re just skimming the top.
There’s really so much double meaning in this book that I want to get into, but I went into this book entirely blind, and I think you should too.
(Or, as much as you can after you read a book review super hyping it up. (hi, thanks for coming!))
So, and I promise that neither myself or this quote will give anything away, but let’s get into one of the examples that sticks most in my mind. If you want to come back and look at this once you read We Are Okay, you can find this passage on page 166!
“…and then I was passing the warning sign that everybody ignored, even though the danger it warned of was undeniably true.”
Really, all we have here, is that our main character Marin walked past a warning sign that is, as she tell us, often ignored. But, she understands the significance of it. That’s to say, she’s probably experienced what the sign is warning against. AND, not to mention, the events that are happening around her telling us about this sign??? Wow.
Not only was the writing amazing and beautiful and wonderful and immediately made me want to read everything that Nina LaCour has published, the topic matter was simply stunning. As you can probably tell from the synopsis, the book really centers on Marin and her grief of so many different things. But, you guys. There are so many different types of grief talked about and I not only love that, but I really respect it.
A huge focus of the story is feeling a physical grief—the grief you feel when someone is physically out of your life, maybe because they passed away, you grew apart, or they’re just simply not in your life anymore. THEN, you have an emotional grief, one in which you grieve over someone losing themselves, whether it be you or someone you’re close with. Like I said, I really both adore and respect this duality. Grief can be so confusing and all-consuming, and I think that We Are Okay really touches on what it feels like to lose someone and to lose yourself/a close friend/relationship.
What’s also really intriguing to me, and I’ve seen it mentioned in other reviews, We Are Okay isn’t exactly plot-driven, and that’s not even a bad thing. I would even argue that it’s entirely character-driven, and I’m in love with that.
It really truly sounds rude of me to say it, and I mean it from the bottom of my heart with nothing but awe and kindness, but there really isn’t much of a plot behind this book. But that’s the thing. That’s what had me hooked. That’s what makes it feel so realistic to me. Grief isn’t linear, and it’s not mapped by plot points. Grief can be very alienating and isolating, almost as if your story isn’t a story. Yes, there was a plot twist, and yes, I’m sure that Nina LaCour spent so many hours over a storyboard, planning her plot points, but the way it reads is so character-focused and I love and respect that so much.
Marin is very much in her own head and, because we’re reading from her perspective, we essentially live there with her. We’re alone in her dorm room with her; we’re in the ceramic store with her; we’re trying to impress a guest in the same way that she is. We are Marin, and Marin is us.
Genuinely, I found myself really relating with Marin and her story. The fact that she often sat in her freshman dorm room alone hit a very reminiscent chord with me, as did her friendship with Hannah (and that’s all you’re getting about Hannah because there will be NO spoilers had!) I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think that We Are Okay is going to help so many people feel more “normal” during their first year of college, and I also think that it’s going to help readers walk through their own grief if that time ever comes.
Have I gushed about this book enough yet? I feel as if I could keep going.
From the second I closed the back cover, I immediately wanted to reread it for the beautiful story it is and to catch on all of the beautiful call-outs that kept repeating throughout the whole book tying it all together. It’s kind of taking all of my self-control to not reread it right this second.
We Are Okay really belongs on the shelves of so many readers because I know for a fact that it’s going to help so many people.
Why on EARTH did it take me two years to read it???
- you like college-aged narrators
- you enjoyed the lyrical writing of Aristotle & Dante
- you like to curl up with a book that takes place during winter/the holidays
- you enjoy flashback chapters
Overall: 5 shells out of 5 ★★★★★.