Hello, people of the internet!
Before I start this review, I’ll mention a book club. My friend, Sarah, from The Little Contemporary Corner and her fellow founding member, Sophie, decided to create a book club that focuses on books with LGBTQ+ themes. I thought this was a fantastic idea and, though I am personally heterosexual, I have friends and family members who are LGBTQ+ and who support and appreciate. So I decided to take part!
And that was how I came across this gem (pun somewhat intended) of a book.
Title: We Are Okay
Author: Nina LaCour
Publication date: 14th February 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books
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.
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.
What can I say that no one else has said already? It really is a beautiful book. The only other book I can compare it to, in terms of its honest portrayal of grief, is The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I adore The Lovely Bones mainly because of its balance of emotions. Yes, there will be pain and loneliness that will consume everything you knew and once happy memories become bitter, but there is hope. That is what We Are Okay does wonderfully. I honestly don’t always read books that focuses on grief because I feel they don’t always write it correctly: it’s either too brutal or too happily ever after, which I don’t like reading. We Are Okay is honest and brutal (seriously, I felt Marin’s loneliness and it really tore me up!), but when hope and happy moments do arrive, it feels amazing and deserved. Not many books make me cry like We Are Okay did.
The characters are also beautifully written. As I was reading it, I became so emotionally involved with Marin: I cried when she cried. Mabel is another character from We Are Okay who I simply adore. Their friendship and love for one another is one of the best I’ve ever read. I felt I was there with them as they tried to reconnect after a long absence. I didn’t want Marin to feel lonely anymore and I wanted her to reconnect with Mabel, who travelled across America just to see her, even after Marin refused to speak to anyone from her old life. The fact Mabel did that just shows how much Mabel cares about Marin.
As for the LGBTQ+ themes, I felt they were deal with very well. Nina LaCour herself is LGBTQ+ and, from what I’ve read, wishes to write more uplifting stories with LGBTQ+ themes because she felt there are many LGBTQ+ books that are too dark. After reading We Are Okay, I can safely say she has achieved her goal. Of course, there are dark elements in We Are Okay, but it is still an uplifting story and the LGBTQ+ themes do help in creating happy moments as well as more depth to Marin and Mabel’s characters.
What else can I say about We Are Okay? I can perfectly imagine the setting of both California and New York. I could even picture the dorms well! I may not have moved out when I went to Uni, but I have stayed over at my friends’ dorms a few times and I can say the dormitories in We Are Okay are written realistically.
I adore this book to bits. Nothing has moved me like We Are Okay did in years. I will give it 5 stars out of 5. Because We Are Okay is not okay, it is magnificent.
Thank you for reading!