“We Are Okay” (2017) by Nina LaCour
I’ve always believed in the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but I have to admit the beautifully stunning cover of We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour, was what led me to pick up this one, and honestly did have some influence in me buying it, as well. Most of this book I “read” via audiobook, which is very well produced and read by Jorjeana Marie, who does a fantastic job with the story, and the characters. I ended up picking up a copy of the novel at the library, too, so that I could keep reading when I wasn’t in the car (where I audiobook, during my long Los Angeles commute).
This is a quiet read. Whereas some authors possess an economy of words, this book is more written in an economy of story. This is not heavily plot-driven, yet that said there is a story arc we are led through and there are secrets and failings and challenges and successes. This is a coming-of-age type of story with a few detours. It is also a very well-done story about loss, betrayal, first love, grief, and survival.
I loved the inclusion of an LGBT love story that was handled effortlessly and did not stand out as being heteronormative. It was a love story (in part), that just happened to be between a bisexual girl and a seemingly gay girl. I loved the ethnic differences and how it is also handled as just part of the landscape of each character.
I loved that there was an openness to sexuality to the story that is not always a part of a lot of YA without it being the central focus. This wasn’t a coming out story, or one about being gay, or bisexual, and the challenges that may provide. No, this is a story about family, about huge loss, about stories and secrets and memories, about being lost after a huge loss, and about family – both by blood and/or by choice.
I do not want to spoil anything about this because I think one of the beautiful things in this story is the journey and the unexpected turns. I think one should come at it without knowing too much.
Nina LaCour has a way with words, with details, with raw emotions, and with characters who open up slowly, realistically, and in the end, beautifully. I rooted for Marin the entire time, as well as I did for Mabel and Javier and Ana, and even Gramps. I wanted to know what happens next, at school, in Marin’s life, in all of their stories.
When I got to the last page, I had tears in my eyes, a smile on my face, and a wanting for more. That’s a pretty good way to feel when you end a book, don’t you think?