I love books that are loaded up with plenty of emotion, but even more than that, I love character driven novels that feature a main character and supporting characters learning more about themselves, growing as individuals, and dealing with everyday problems and issues that real people face.
We Are Okay offers all of those things (along with a strikingly beautiful cover), and I have to say that I am thoroughly impressed by this book. It is the first book by Nina LaCour that I have read to date, although I do have others that have been written by her. I loved her writing style, as well – it felt like I was spending an evening with a best friend that I hadn’t seen in a while, and because of that, it made the book easy to fall in love with.
“I wonder if there’s a secret current that connects people who lost something. Not in the way that everyone loses something, but in the way that undoes your life, undoes your self, so that when you look at your face it isn’t yours anymore.”
With beautiful writing and a story that will cause you to feel emotions from the very bottom of your heart, We Are Okay makes takes place over a three day period – three days with the same two characters, resolving a conflict that left both of them broken in their own ways.
Marin has had a difficult time dealing with things – she lost her grandfather, and instead of dealing with her emotions, she flees to New York to start college early, staying in a motel until her semester starts. When she finally is able to move into a dorm room, she finds herself enjoying the company of her roommate, Hannah, although she still feels broken inside. Over Christmas vacation, while everyone else is going home with their families, Marin will be staying behind in the dorms in New York – she feels she has no family to go home to anymore. Alone in the entire school, aside from the groundskeeper, Marin must come to terms with her loss, and with the upcoming visit with her old best friend and girlfriend, to whom she has never explained why she had picked up and left after her grandfather’s death.
When Mabel arrives, there is an awkwardness between them both. Marin tries to make Mabel believe that she is doing okay, and that she is sorry she hadn’t texted or called Mabel back, but the truth is, Marin is broken inside. Seeing Mabel, and not being able to touch her in the ways that she used to, not being able to feel the same kind of feelings she used to for Mabel, is hurting her all over again.
But when one snowy night leads them to confront Marin’s sudden departure, the two of them rekindle their friendship, but Marin finds herself wondering if they can ever be more than friends again.
“‘But sometimes two people have a deep connection. It makes romance seem trivial. It isn’t about anything carnal. It’s about souls. About the deepest part of who you are as a person.'”
This book goes back and forth, from the time before Marin left for college, before her grandfather died, and in the present, during Mabel’s visit. During the chapters we get with her grandfather, we learn a lot about Marin, and get to glimpse into her life when she and Mabel first discovered their feelings for each other, as well as some other key elements that make up the person that Marin is, such as her mother’s death, and her grandfather’s declining health. These chapters are incredibly important to Marin’s backstory, and the way that they are written really gives us an insight into her character.
The story between Marin and Mabel is a beautiful one – one of self-discovery and first love, and you can feel how real their feelings toward one another are. It’s the kind of love, the kind of connection, that makes you feel whole as a person – the kind of true love story that most people long for.
While so many parts of this book are lonely and depressing, the overall theme of the book is beautiful. Watching Marin recover from her grandfather’s death and everything surrounding it, as well as watching her rekindle a friendship with her best friend, is something that will make you really feel what love is all about.
Even though you might think it We Are Okay might be a slow paced novel, since it is told over the time span of three days, it isn’t – it allows us to get into a close, deep relationship with the characters, which really makes the book that much better. We get a bunch of smaller scenes, such as the two of them making food or brushing their teeth, but during these scenes it’s so much easier to tell who they are, and to get inside their heads – especially Marin.
This is such a beautiful novel, and while I can’t compare this to any of Nina LaCour’s other books, I can say for a fact that I will be reading them all.