Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Summary: “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” (Goodreads).
I didn’t expect We Are Okay to become one of the most important books I’ve ever read when I ordered it off Amazon. It was cheap, I’d seen good reviews, and I’d always wanted to read something by Nina LaCour. So, consider my mind blown.
I read this book in one night, I kid you not. It’s actually really short, which I wasn’t completely expecting, but so much emotion is packed into it to make up for the page count. Yes, this book is sad. But it is also optimistic and a beautiful depiction of grief, for both who you’ve been and who you’ve lost.
Grief is something I understand really well. I lost one of my favorite teachers when I was 12, my granddad in elementary school, my aunt in fifth grade. I know the pains of grief like the back of my own hand, know the muteness of a funeral, know the ache and pain and questions and anger. I wasn’t as close to my granddad as Marin was, clearly, because I was only eight when he died and had seen him a limited number of times, but I’m trying to say that through these three experiences put together, I understood where she was coming from completely. I cannot comprehend how hard the pain of losing your guardian would be if what I felt during those experiences was suffocating.
Anyway, I’m always on the search for books that represent grief well, and I always get really irritated when a character dies in a book and the main character suffers for a chapter and is okay in the next and they never mention it again. (Or in a TV show…I’m looking at you Shadowhunters.) That’s. Unrealistic. So, this was a breath of fresh air if I’ve ever seen one.
This book is heavy, though, for being so short. It’s one of the more tragic books I’ve ever read, and there’s so little light until you reach the final pages. It’s like walking through a tunnel without a flashlight and finding a crack in the wall where you can push the rocks away. The point is that you have to push the rocks away yourself, or Marin does, at least. She has to make herself accept the love she deserves.
This book isn’t about romance, even though a lot of it is told in flashbacks about a past “fling.” It’s mostly about friendship, reunion, and overwhelming loss. It’s about hope and sorrow and the light at the end of the very long and winding tunnel. I cannot possibly recommend this book enough.