Running back to college and shutting out everyone from her life in California after a traumatic summer that nobody else knows about, Marin is forced to confront what happened during a lonely, fateful winter break. By the award-winning author of Hold Still. Simultaneous eBook. - (Baker & Taylor)
After leaving her life behind to go to college in New York, Marin must face the truth about the tragedy that happened in the final weeks of summer when her friend Mabel comes to visit. - (Baker & Taylor)
Winner of the 2018 Michael L. Printz Award — An achingly beautiful novel about grief and the enduring power of friendship.
“Short, poetic and gorgeously written.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A beautiful, devastating piece of art." —Bookpage
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.
Praise for We Are Okay
“Nina LaCour treats her emotions so beautifully and with such empathy.” —Bustle
★ “Exquisite.” —Kirkus
★ “LaCour paints a captivating depiction of loss, bewilderment, and emotional paralysis . . . raw and beautiful.” —Booklist
★ “Beautifully crafted . . . . A quietly moving, potent novel.” —SLJ
★ “A moving portrait of a girl struggling to rebound after everything she’s known has been thrown into disarray.” —Publishers Weekly
★"Bittersweet and hopeful . . . poetic and skillfully crafted." —Shelf Awareness
“So lonely and beautiful that I could hardly breathe. This is a perfect book.” —Stephanie Perkins, bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss
“As beautiful as the best memories, as sad as the best songs, as hopeful as your best dreams.”
—Siobhan Vivian, bestselling author of The Last Boy and Girl in the World
“You can feel every peak and valley of Marin’s emotional journey on your skin, in your gut. Beautifully written, heartfelt, and deeply real.” —Adi Alsaid, author of Never Always Sometimes and Let’s Get Lost - (Penguin Putnam)
*Starred Review* It's the winter break during Marin's first year at college, and she is facing the holidays thousands of miles from her San Francisco home. Since her grandfather died the previous summer, Marin feels set adrift. Not only has she lost Gramps, her sole caretaker, but he'd been keeping secrets, and when she discovers the truth, it shatters everything she believed was true about her life. Engulfed in pain and feeling alone, she shuns her best friend Mabel's numerous calls and texts. But Mabel flies cross-country, determined to help her friend deal with her grief. Marin is afraid that Mabel regrets the physical intimacy that had grown between the two girls while she was still in California, and braces herself for more heartache, but Mabel surprises her in more ways than one. With the most delicate and loving strokes in Marin's first-person narrative, LaCour paints a captivating depiction of loss, bewilderment, and emotional paralysis. Images of the icy winter surrounding Marin in New York contrast sharply with her achingly vibrant memories of San Francisco. Raw and beautiful, this portrait of a girl searching for both herself and a sense of home will resonate with readers of LGBTQIA romances, particularly those with bisexual themes, and the poignant and affecting exploration of grief and betrayal will enchant fans of character-driven fiction. Copyright 2016 Booklist Reviews.
A devastating, poignant story of a teen dealing with grief
In We Are Okay,author Nina LaCour (Everything Leads to You)tells a story more of absence than presence, looking with calm directness at grief and betrayal and the ways they can multiply outward. It’s a beautiful, devastating piece of art.
Marin is in school in New York, quietly living a new life and trying to leave behind the life she ran from. Her lonely Christmas break is interrupted by a visit from her best friend (and now ex-girlfriend), Mabel. The truth about the event that caused Marin to leave San Francisco with only what she held in her hands comes out slowly, and her grief in the face of it is cavernous. But notice the details LaCour shines a light on: the perfect yellow bowls Marin bought at a pottery shop, the potted plant thriving and in need of a larger container. If her existence now is sparse, it is not without color, or life.
The title hints at a happy ending, but the journey toward it passes through some of the darkest corners of the heart. Be prepared to be gutted—and grateful. We Are Okay is an extraordinary work by an author who keeps redefining and elevating her genre. Readers are lucky to have it.
This article was originally published in the February 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.
Copyright 2017 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews
Alone on a snowy campus for winter break during her first year of college, Marin--who abruptly fled her California home for reasons that only gradually become clear--anxiously awaits the arrival of her best friend for a visit. Marin's harrowing, heartbreaking backstory illustrates the complexities of a friendship that turns romantic and the knotty relationship between grief and memory. Copyright 2017 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
"If only lonely were a more accurate word. It should sound much less pretty." It's December in New York, and college freshman Marin is in her dorm room, contemplating a solitary monthlong stay after everyone else has left for winter break. Her single respite will be a brief visit from her best friend, Mabel. Marin is dreading the stay for reasons that are revealed in flashbacks: she fled San Francisco without informing anyone after the sudden death of her beloved Gramps, who raised her. Over the course of three days, secrets about Gramps, Marin's long-dead mother, and the girls' complicated relationship are revealed in short, exquisite sentences that evoke myriad emotions with a minimum of words. "I must have shut grief out. Found it in books. Cried over fiction instead of the truth. The truth was unconfined, unadorned. There was no poetic language to it, no yellow butterflies, no epic floods.…The truth was vast enough to drown in." A surprise arrival at story's end lea ds to a tearful resolution of Marin's sorrow and a heartfelt renewal of her relationship with Mabel and her family. Mexican-American Mabel speaks Spanish, while an absence of markers indicates Marin is likely white. An elegantly crafted paean to the cleansing power of truth. (Fiction. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2016 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Over the winter holidays, college freshman Marin opts to remain in an empty dorm in New York rather than go home to California. The reasons she decides to stay gently unfold one layer at a time, in an introspective novel that powerfully explores her solitude and conflicted emotions against the backdrop of a stormy, icy winter. Marin's temptation to burrow under the covers and "stay in bed all day" has to be put on hold when an old friend, Mabel, comes for a visit. As Mabel attempts to persuade Marin to return to San Francisco (at least for a while), Marin is forced to confront the past she is trying to forget, namely the summer that began with Marin and Mabel taking their friendship into thrilling new territory and ended with the death of Marin's caretaker grandfather and the exposure of disturbing secrets. Through Marin's memories and cautious conversations with Mabel, LaCour (Hold Still) conjures a moving portrait of a girl struggling to rebound after everything she's known has been thrown into disarray. Ages 14–up. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (Feb.) Copyright 2016 Publisher Weekly.
School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 8 Up—Her first semester of college behind her, Marin stays alone in the dorms over break, even with the threat of a snowstorm looming, rather than return to San Francisco, where bad memories lurk. Her best friend Mabel comes to stay with her, and over the next few days, Marin contemplates the events of last spring and summer and deals with her complicated relationship with Mabel. Slowly, readers learn more about Marin's life: the surfer mother who drowned when Marin was young, the father she never knew, the loving grandfather who raised her but whose concealed secrets kept a wall between them, and the painful events that sent Marin fleeing San Francisco. LaCour's use of settings is masterly: frigid and desolate upstate New York reflects Marin's alienation, while vibrant San Francisco evokes moments of joy. Though there's little action, with most of the writing devoted to Marin's memories, thoughts, and musings, the author's nuanced and sensitive depiction of the protagonist's complex and turbulent inner life makes for a rich narrative. Marin is a beautifully crafted character, and her voice is spot-on, conveying isolation, grief, and, eventually, hope. With hauntingly spare prose, the emphasis on the past, and references to gothic tales such as The Turning of the Screw and Jane Eyre, this is realistic fiction edged with the melancholy tinge of a ghost story. VERDICT A quietly moving, potent novel that will appeal to teens, especially fans of Laurie Halse Anderson and Sara Zarr.—Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal. Copyright 2016 School Library Journal.