I fell in love with We Are Okay. 2017 was a weird year in that I ended up rereading a lot but didn’t feel like picking up new books, though there were a few exceptions. I’m trying to do things differently this year and We Are Okay was the perfect book to start with.
It’s a very short book and would make for a quick read, but I managed to draw it out and I’m glad I did. It allowed me to fully immerse myself in the story. The narrative moves back and forth in time and LaCour handled this exceptionally well. The non-linear format never felt confusing or disorganised.
At its core, We Are Okay is a simple story. It is a story about loss and the many ways in which it changes us. It’s about having to deal with something unimaginable and not having a choice. Marin the main protagonist and she’s struggling to deal with the loss of her grandfather.
We Are Okay sets up a desolate scene, the bulk of the novel takes place during winter and LaCour describes it so well that you can almost feel the bite of the cold. This also serves to amplify Marin’s loneliness and isolation. That isolation and loneliness is palpable.
As the main character, Marin was beautifully written. I could relate to her on a level that I usually can’t with other characters. Her grief was a heavy thing and stayed with her like a fog that never lifted. The non-linear narrative also illustrated just how much she had changed from who she used to be. There isn’t a lot of dialogue, a lot of what we read are Marin’s thoughts, feelings and emotions. This really gives the reader an insight into what she’s going through.
One of the things I loved was the fact that she read as way to cope because the books gave her an outlet that was safe and I so identify with that. I do that all the time, I use books for escapism because they are safe, there is a definite beginning, middle and an end and you know that once the book/series is over, then so is the story. It’s neat and organised in a way that life isn’t and can’t be. I understand the refuge that books can provide. Add to that, LaClour mentioned Lady Lazarus and Daddy and they are among my favourite Sylvia Plath poems and I love Anne Sexton.
I liked pretty much all the characters in this book. I loved Hannah, Marin’s room-mate. And even though she’s barely in the book, she is still memorable. She’s perceptive and kind. I really liked Mabel and her friendship with Marin. I appreciated that she kept trying to reach her and when they did meet, she tried to understand why Marin did what she did. There was anger and frustration, but she never let that colour her interactions with Marin.
I loved was the way their sexuality was handled. It was so normal, LaCour dealt with it with sensitivity. I loved the way it unfolded with both of them discovering more about themselves and each other.
Mabel’s parents, Ana and Javier were amazing. Marin’s grandfather was such a wonderfully complex character and with so many layers. I appreciated that he wasn’t perfect, that he made mistakes, huge mistakes but that he also loved Marin deeply.
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour is beautifully written and deals with grief and loss in a way that stays with you. Her way of writing is simple and yet beautiful, it feels casual. I absolutely loved the book and I highly recommend it.
P.S. – The cover is stunning