We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved this book, and can see why it was chosen for the Printz Medal. While it does deal with grief, tragedy, and loneliness, don't let that put you off. While some tears may be shed reading this book and it does follow the charcters into dark places, it is NOT one of those dark, twisty, depressing books with a bleak ending.
The book opens on Marin, a college freshmen in New York, saying good-bye to her roommate, Hannah, as Hannah prepares to leave for winter break and Marin stays in the dorm, alone. From their conversation, the reader perceives that Hannah is concerned about Marin, that Marin is somehow fragile. As the story progresses we understand that Marin has sufferred some kind of tragedy that prompted her to leave everything and everyone behind in California, without even saying good-bye, and she has not talked to anyone since, not even her best friend Mabel. After 3 months of Marin ignoring Mabel's calls and texts, Mabel is coming to visit, which prompts Marin to begin to deal with her feelings.
As the story unfolds, we learn bit by bit what happened to Marin, and why it affected her so deeply as Marin herself finely begins to face the past and deal with her feelings. This is primarily a story about dealing with grief, showing how there is no one way to grieve and everyone processes grief differently, and sometimes in ways that are not so healthy. But it is also a story of love and friendship, and being able to let your guard down and admit when you need help and accept love. We see how Marin and Mabel's friendship evolves and changes, but that no matter how many walls Marin puts up, Mabel and her family refuse to give up on her, but give her the space to work through her feelings.
This is definitely a thoughtful book, with most of it taking place inside Marin's head, her thoughts, feelings, and memories, and while some readers might get a tad impatient to know what happened to Marin to leave her so affected, I think it unfolds at an appropriate pace. This could be a good book for teens who have had to deal with such losses to find someone to relate to, and would also be good for the friends or family of a young person who is grieving to read to help them understand how difficult it can be, and how differently people might deal with it.
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