Sunday, February 12, 2017

Review: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository IndieBound
Series: No
Release date: February 14th, 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers (Penguin)
Length: 240 pages
Source: ARC from ALAMW
Rating: Gillian is NOT okay

"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.

This book is brilliant, and Nina LaCour is a master. And she owes me a stiff drink.

I should probably rate this five stars because it's absolutely exquisite, not to mention gorgeously written, but I honestly feel so miserable after finishing this book that I can't. LaCour is an absolutely STUPENDOUS writer, and I felt all the things that Marin felt, which is both a blessing and a curse, because this book is so HOWLINGLY SAD. I just feel obliterated. 

This book is about a college freshman, Marin, who has cut off her old life and it basically existing in stasis at her new school on the opposite side of the country. She's about to face a winter break entirely alone in the dorms, surrounded by snow and silence...except her best friend, whom she hasn't spoken to in months, is coming to stay for three days. The best friend who was something more at the end of it.


Nina LaCour has a way of cutting to the ugly truth of things that's so genius, and maybe in like ten years I can read this book again and marvel at it, but honestly the topics in this book veer way too personally close to comfort. I just feel like a wreck. I feel like this book cracked my chest and rummaged around it and poke poke poked at all the most painful inside-bits. Which again is a sign of an EXCELLENTLY WRITTEN BOOK. Very rarely do I read books that speak to me on that personal a level. Like, this is basically a masterpiece, but I also want to put it in the freezer. 

And go watch a Disney movie. In fact, yes, I am going to go watch a Disney movie. I am going to watch several Disney movies.

You know how sometimes you read a book that reflects you and you're like I FEEL SEEN! I LOVE THIS BOOK! (like Fangirl and This Adventure Ends did for me.) Well, I did not get that feeling here. I mostly just felt miserable and achy about it. (Which, again, definitely the intended effect, since it's a miserable and achey and heart-wrenching kind of read, but I really just need a lot of chocolate now.)

I think you should read this book. Honestly, I do. It's short and powerful, and the characters are full and layered. I felt for them, and I wanted them to be happy, and the dual timeline--Marin's after and before--is executed wonderfully. As the past catches up with the present, you sort of realize you're reading a different book than you thought you were. (An INFINITELY SADDER ONE, IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT.)

This book does HAVE hope and joy in it, but the hope and joy just make it SADDER, at least for me. And the mood of the book is so thick with Marin's loss and loneliness that you just feel sort of drowned in it, which--to state once again--is the point, and a sign of tremendous writing. It's so wonderfully done, but spending an hour and a half in Marin's life is no easy task. I don't even know if I was crying for Marin or for myself but just... ouch. ouch ouch lots of ouches. Tissues and ouch and lying on the floor feeling OUCH.

If you like uber feelsy contemporary books this is the one for you. If you don't want to spend two solid hours sobbing, then maybe skip this one. And join me as I go watch Tangled three times in a row.


  1. I NEED THIS BOOK LIKE I NEED AIR. Nina LaCour is such a fantastic writer and this book looks so beautiful. I cannot wait for it to be released because I know I'm going to devour it in one, and then cry for about a million years after.

  2. oh man i know just what you mean about books that need to go in the freezer! lol Joey XD

  3. Damn it! I have an ARC of this that I started and was too scared to keep reading (her friend just arrived to the dorm) and honestly I have no idea how to explain it beyond I am afraid of the emotional intensity. LaCour is one of the most quietly powerful and beautiful writers of all time and her exploration of grief is the most perfect. BUT I JUST CANNOT HANDLE IT.


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