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We Are Okay by Nina LaCour (Review)

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Release date: February 14th, 2017 Author links: Goodreads - Twitter - Website Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers Pages: 240 Description (from Goodreads): From the award-winning author of Hold Still comes an achingly beautiful novel about grief and the enduring power of friendship. "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.   Nina LaCour's name rarely comes up when I list my favorite authors, but now that I started to think about it, the fact is that I have enjoyed everything I have read by her previously, Hold Still  and Everything Leads to You. We Are Okay   will definitely be a new addition to that list. To be completely honest, not that much actually happens in We Are Okay . If you are looking for an action-packed read, this is definitely not for you. While I think plot-based books are interesting, I am more of a fan of character-based, almost character study, type of books, and at least for me, We Are Okay  is exactly that kind of book -- a story of a young woman going through change after a tragedy. Marin's life has been divided into two -- life before her grandfather died and life after it. She has escaped her past in California to study in New York. While she probably never fully intended to do it, she has also left her best friend Mabel behind.  We Are Okay  narrates both the events of the present time (Mabel visiting Marin before Christmas) as well as events from the past that led to Marin's departure from California. While Marin finds herself from a new and strange environment, it is clear that she is not just suddenly able to get rid of her past. I think Marin is an incredibly likable, multi-dimensional character, and while We Are Okay  is a short and quick book to read, LaCour is able to create a character that is memorable and someone I was definitely able to relate with to a degree (being able to relate with a character is definitely not something I require from a book to be good, but it definitely is a bonus).  Like Marin, I have not been able to avoid grief. I read this book in February, but am only writing this review two months later (April). A week ago, my grandmother passed away and after the initial shock, I started to think about this book and how it deals with grief.  Marin loses her grandfather and initially learns that he has been hiding something from her. While I probably won't find out that my grandmother has been hiding something from me, my reflection of this book made me realize that there are parts of my grandmother's life that I never learned about, and never probably will learn about now that she has passed away.  LaCour writes so beautifully and lyrically, and at times it felt like I was reading poetry. It seems like every single word is carefully chosen, which results in the fact that as a reader, I never felt like there was too much or too little of something in here.  I especially love the way LaCour writers about the relationship between Marin and Mabel, a connection that, at a time, was more than just a friendship. The narrative about families, especially the kind of families we can gain later in life through friendships etc., was executed beautifully and definitely made me tear up. I highly recommend We Are Okay   to those looking for an emotional, beautifully written contemporary novel that deals with grief, friendship, love, and second chances. And come on, look at that cover... it is absolutely gorgeous! Rating:

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