Welcome to my stop on the We Are Okay blog tour, brought to you by the lovely people of #AusYABloggers, University of Queensland Press and of course, the amazing Nina LaCour. I’m so grateful to be a part of the tour as I’m a huge fan of LaCour’s writing and I love that I’ve got an opportunity to share my enthusiasm for her work! Here’s the We Are Okay official synopsis:
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 far 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.
An intimate whisper that packs an indelible punch, We Are Okay is Nina LaCour at her finest. This gorgeously crafted and achingly honest portrayal of grief will leave you urgent to reach across any distance to reconnect with the people you love.
Firstly, I’d like to clarify that this is actually my second time reading We Are Okay, I initially read the book when it was released in the US in 2017. After a two year wait, the book has finally been released in paperback format in Australia, so I thought 2019 was the perfect time for a reread. Having now read the book twice, I think I’m even more in love with it than I was after the first time. Marin’s story is a deeply character driven one, it’s a subtle book that whispers, rather than roars. It’s a story about grief, and finding hope again after enduring a great personal loss. As such, I can see why it wouldn’t appeal to everyone – it’s definitely not an action packed book, nor is the plot particularly fast paced. Personally, I love this kind of book, it’s somehow deeply emotional without being melodramatic, and I feel like the soft, gentle, pacing gives the book a more realistic feel.
The main focus of the book is Marin and the relationships she has with the two most important people in her life; her grandfather and her best friend Mabel. Having lost her mother at a very young age, Marin has spent most of her life being raised by her Gramps. The two have what first appears like a great relationship. There’s a sense of easy companionship between the pair and their life together seems simple and free of drama. However, though Gramps clearly loves Marin, he still keeps her at a distance, hiding the pain of his past and maintaining a sense of mystery around his life. Marin and Mabel’s relationship is also more complicated than it first appears. The two started out as best friends, but in senior year, their relationship started to evolve into something more romantic. But when Marin escaped to New York, she left everything behind, including Mabel. Can the pair reconnect after being apart for months? Or will Mabel be unable to forgive Marin for shutting her out?
We Are Okay is told through two alternating timelines. In the present day, Marin is alone in her college dorm, experiencing the harsh New York winter for the first time. The flashbacks are set in the North Carolina summer, in the weeks leading up to Marin and Mabel’s high school graduation. The pair are happy and in love, spending their nights sharing whisky stolen from Gramps and kissing on the beach. Both settings are gorgeous and they act as sort of an emotional backdrop to the story. The summer chapters are beachy, fun and full of the happiness of first love. Whereas the winter chapters are melancholy, the stormy weather heightening Marin’s sense of loneliness. While there is a lot of sadness in the present day chapters, there’s also a spark of hope. Marin may be broken, but she’s healing. Through out the novel, we see her coming to terms with what happened at the end of last summer and slowly opening herself back up to the world around her.
Ultimately, We Are Okay is a beautifully written book and a very raw, and honest portrayal of loss. It’s a book that will pull at your heart strings, and probably stay with you for a long time. I honestly don’t think I’m a skilled enough writer to convey just how gorgeous this story is. It’s sad, poetic, and something about it just felt so achingly real. To put things simply, We Are Okay is amazing, and you should go read it. After a long, hot summer the Australian weather is finally starting to cool down and I feel this book would make for the perfect comforting and cozy winter read.
I rate this book 5/5!
The We Are Okay tour is almost over, but make sure you keep an eye out for the final reviews from Reading Sumpton, Jamishelves and Elysian Words! Thank you again to #AusYABloggers for allowing me to be a part of his tour.