Book review: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
Source: Borrowed

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.

One of my goals for this summer was to read more books by Nina LaCour. I really enjoyed You Know Me Well when I read it a couple years ago, but life got in the way and even though at least three of her books have been on my TBR forever, I never got around to actually reading them. I put a library hold on We Are Okay months ago. When the hold finally came in, I promptly forgot that I had the book and realized, as I was packing for my trip to Wisconsin, that the book was going to expire the next day. I read it in the airport and I usually love books that I read in airports, but this one was only… okay.

I think the biggest problem I had was that the book is just super character-driven, to the point that not a lot actually happens. And I get it, I really do. The whole point of the book is that Marin’s grandfather has just died and she’s trying to deal with her grief and all the changes in her life and she’s trying to figure out what everything means for her. I get it. But I wanted something more to happen. Something to keep me interested. Something other than just beautiful writing.

The book was just so sad and I didn’t see much of a point to it other than that. Three stars for the writing alone, but if I’m being honest, I’m pretty disappointed.

#mm18: vacation reads
Goodreads summer reading challenge: take pride

Have you read We Are Okay? Have you read any of Nina LaCour’s other books?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Best of 2016

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!  It’s already the last one of 2016!  Today’s theme is the best of 2016.  I read a lot of great books this year, so rather than agonize over which ones to include, I’m using this as a general overview of my favorites.  In early 2017, I’ll have a more detailed list available for you, broken down by genre.

Below are Goodreads links for all titles included in the graphics:

[since you’ve been gone] [koreatown] [are you there god? it’s me margaret]
[what we saw] [the unexpected everything] [lured in] [you know me well]
[me before you] [some kind of perfect] [made you up]

What were your favorites of 2016?

ARC review: You Know Me Well by David Levithan & Nina LaCour

You Know Me Well by David Levithan & Nina LaCour
Rating: ★★★★★
Links: AmazonGoodreads
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Source: ARC via Netgalley

Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is, until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other—and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, You Know Me Well is a story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

It’s been eight years since I graduated from high school, but the feeling that David Levithan and Nina LaCour capture in this book, in the last few days of the school year, is exactly what I remember.

Mark is finishing up his junior year of high school, trying to decide whether he wants to let his best friend/often-more-than-a-friend Ryan know that he wants to step firmly into more-than-friends territory. While out at a bar, Ryan dares the usually subdued Mark to compete in an underwear dancing contest. To Ryan’s surprise, Mark obliges. To Mark’s dismay, this does not make Ryan see him as any more of a romantic prospect than he did five minutes ago.

What this does, though, is get the attention of Kate, a senior in Mark’s calculus class. While this could have been disatrous, Mark and Kate actually form a fast friendship, bonding over their mutual love disasters. Kate is in love with her best friend’s cousin, Violet, from afar. The two have never met, never spoken, never even texted, but Kate knows that she’s in love. Her best friend tells her that Violet feels the same way. But for some reason, when it comes time for the two of them to meet, Kate bolts. She runs right into Mark’s underwear dance, and the rest is history.

(Well, not really. This is just the setup for the book. The rest is about 200 pages, featuring Kate’s anxiety at leaving for college, Mark’s very real struggle to accept Ryan’s feelings, and the friendship that builds between these two former strangers over the course of just a few days.)

This book took me right back to my childhood bedroom, a thousand miles from where I am now, both literally and figuratively. It took me back to that feeling of being terrified about my future, excited about moving on but unsure of what would happen to all of my relationships as I moved on to the next chapter in my life.

This book is coming-of-age at its best, when you’re forming new friendships while trying not to leave the old ones behind. When you want desperately for things to stay the same, but you’re also ready for a change. When you struggle with staying in your familiar friendship, or letting your friend know that you’ve developed more-than-friendly feelings for them. It perfectly encapsulates that feeling of growing up and having to make all these decisions and not knowing which one is right.

I can’t imagine not giving this book five stars. Because this is the David Levithan I remember. This is what kept me reading his books, one right after another, when I was the same age as Mark and Kate. I loved this book so much, and now, please excuse me while I check out all of the David Levithan and Nina LaCour books in my library.

A big thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Griffin for the advance copy!