There are degrees of obsession, of awareness, of grief, of insanity.
–We Are Okay, Nina LaCour
GENRE: Young Adult
WHAT FORMAT: audiobook
RATING: 4/5 stars
SUMMARY: Marin is a freshman in college, stranded in the dormitories for winter break. She has not talked to anyone she knew back home since her grandfather had passed. Her best friend, Mabel, comes to visit her at her school in New York. Though the two friends had spent months not talking to each other, they rediscover and re-map out their friendship during Mabel’s three-day visit. Also, Marin explores what it might mean to be “okay” for the first time since she lost her grandfather.
THOUGHTS: This novel is so surprisingly poignant. As I started to read, I grew bored pretty instantaneously because not a lot was happening. However, by the last words of the books, I was left in more tears than I really care to admit on the Internet. Something should be said by the fact that I finished this book in less than 24 hours. I will also mention a small spoiler: this book features a biracial, LGBTQ relationship so yayyy diversity and representation!!
I always prefer carefully constructed characters over an exciting plot, and this means that We are Okay was just my book-type. Marin is so complex, and so relatable to me personally. She is a girl that finds every aspect of her life reflected back to her in the novels that she reads, and she has a special and deep relationship with Jane Eyre (as I definitely do). Marin is also the kind of girl that would rather flee from her issues and use coping mechanisms rather than talk about them and deal with them in concrete ways, which is too relatable.
I adore LaCour’s use of setting to advance her plot and her characterization, which is something that is pretty lost in Young Adult, or even Contemporary Adult novels. And no, this is not English class where you have to search out the significance of every little description. The aiding of the setting of snowy New York City, of a desolate dormitory room (where I know melancholy can reside so easily), of a sketchy motel, of foggy San Francisco, and of sunny Southern California enhanced the story so much that if setting was left out, the story would lose much of its meaning. LaCour achieves this effortlessly though.
This is definitely not a feel-good, Young Adult novel. It is filled to the brim with melancholy, and explores the topics of the grieving process and loneliness in depth. This endeared the book to me, because of its relevance in my personal life and because I think that grief is a topic that should be tackled more often in contemporary literature. Normalizing grief and death in media is so important because it is such a universal experience and yet no one ever seems to want to talk about it.
If you enjoy a thought-provoking, entertaining, and heartbreaking read, then I would recommend this novel to you!