*Disclaimer: There may be some spoilers in the following review, READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED*
Marin is a college freshman who, after dealing with a summer full of trauma, leaves her old life in San Francisco behind when she moves to New York for school, cutting off contact with anyone from her life back then. Now her best friend, Mabel, is coming to visit her, after months of silence. With this visit, Marin has to tell Mabel the truth about what happened last summer, and finally face the past that she’s been running away from all this time.
Since the story is heavily character driven, I don’t have as much to say about the plot. We Are Okay is told through two different points in time: one being Marin’s flashbacks to the summer before she left for college and the other being the present day during Mabel’s three day visit. I think the flashbacks in the novel are done well, and they help drive the story forward, as it makes sense for Marin have these memories resurface as she prepares to tell Mabel about why she stopped contacting her after Mabel left for college.
In my opinion, Marin is a character that is very well fleshed out, and we see both the good and bad in her. She genuinely seems to care about learning to overcome her past, and this need to do so becomes stronger as the story progresses. This is why Marin’s grandpa is such an interesting character. During the first half of the story, we get to see Marin’s grandpa through her “rose-tinted glasses”, as you would say. This realization of her grandpa’s flaws, and essentially not being who she thought he was, is the turning point for Marin during the flashbacks of the past summer. In the present day, she must now come to terms with this fact, and this process becomes a major part of Marin’s character development.
One character I wish we could have seen more of was Claudia, who is the owner of a pottery shop in town, where Marin applies to work. Marin had shopped there before, and compelled by the pottery work, decided to take Mabel there during her visit. At that time, Marin knows that she needs to get a job to help with school, so she asks Claudia about working there. This could have been an interesting story line to see develop, as Marin and Claudia get to know each other. During the second visit to the shop, Marin specifically notices the pain in Claudia’s eyes, and they both talk about being from .
I want to start this off by saying that I love Nina LaCour’s writing style, because she has a way of making you feel as if you were learning profound life lesson’s along with Marin, without it coming across as cheesy or boring you. I always loved reading YA type stories, but there are times when reading them when the writing can come off as cliche, especially when it comes down to the protagonist learning important lessons.
Her writing style also kept the story flowing at a good pace, and I never experienced any moments that were jarring enough to take me out of the story.
Even though I think that the book ended at the right moment in the story, I almost wish there was a second book. It would be interesting to have a second book that takes place maybe during spring break of Marin’s freshman year, and have her maybe go back home to stay with Mabel’s family. Then, she could go to her grandpa’s friend’s house and go through the belongings that were left behind, leading to her learning more about her family. I would also want to see the development of Claudia and Marin’s relationship as they work together during Marin’s spring semester. Then we can learn more about Claudia and her backstory, as well as see how this relationship affects Marin’s processing of what happened with her grandpa.
Overall, I give We Are Okay 5/5 stars.