In case you don't know, I'll repeat it here: I love Nina LaCour! Everything Leads to You is one of my favourite YA novels and I am always at awe with how flawless writing seems when it's written by Nina LaCour.
So I was beyond excited when I bought her new novel We Are Okay. And as usual, this novel went beyond any high expectations I had.
The Goodreads summary of the novel is:
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.
While this is an interesting premise, I was worried the story would be cliché in either the way Marin's sadness is portrayed or how easy it can be fixed.
However, Nina LaCour doesn't shy away at all from the difficulties Marin faces and how deeply rooted they are. You find out early on, this isn't really a spoiler, that Marin's grandfather died and that she grew up with him before that event. The way this book slowly uncovers the complex layers that made up the bond Marin had with her grandfather is amazing and really just a sign of amazing writing. Something starts out so simple and becomes more complex than I ever could have imagined.
Both Marin and Mabel are so easy to relate to. Marin's pain feels very real and the hopelessness Mabel feels is easy to imagine - how do you help someone grieve? How are you there for someone when they have pushed you away? How far can you push someone to let you in? These are all issues Mabel struggles with and I loved seeing her journey throughout the novel.
Overall, We Are Okay is not afraid to face difficult issues head on. Nina LaCour's amazing writing makes it easy for the reader to be guided through a journey that can sometimes be too close for comfort. However, We Are Okay also has a constant theme of love and friendship in it - how important we are to other people and how incredibly helpful we can be. This combination of sadness and happiness means this is a book I won't forget any time soon.