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We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

We Are Okay by Nina LaCourWe Are Okay by Nina LaCour
on February 14th 2017
Genres: YA, Glbt
Pages: 240
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
three-stars

"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.

So I fell in love with the cover of this book and decide that was it I was getting this book. I have to remember that a great cover does not always equal a fantastic book. I think I am getting a little burned out by YA books about grief. This book reminded me of all the worse parts of The Square Root of Summer. I get that people respond differently to grief. But I had a hard time with the main character (Marin) shutting everyone away similar to how her grandfather did when she finds out about things he has kept hidden from her all her life. And honestly the flow of this book was pretty bad. I was bored for about a good 3/4 of it. I just felt like the majority of the book was too angsty for me to really get into. I also had a hard time with Marin being able to just quit her life so to speak. I think if we had more developed secondary characters it would have come together to me. But Mabel felt like an archetype and her parents were too perfect to be real. Heck even Marin’s grandparents friends’ were too perfect in their reactions to Marin just ignoring all of them for months. I wanted someone to yell, scream, to call her selfish, to suggest you get counseling, etc.

“We Are Okay” has Marin at her first semester of college. She is nervous because her best friend (Mabel) who she has not seen since the summer is going to come visit her at her dorms in New York (Marin’s dorms). We don’t know why at first that Marin is staying in New York and not going home, but eventually the story starts to unfold and we find out that her mother died when she was 3 and her grandfather died fairly recently.

I guess my main thought is that I don’t think I could have done what Marin did. I don’t think I could run out on my whole life and abandon friends and especially a best friend and just ignore everyone for months. Heck, I wish we had gotten the perspective of Mabel in this one since I don’t get how she was able to persevere and still make sure that Marin saw her after months of silence. I don’t think I could have been that forgiving. I would want to be, but God knows I am not perfect so I would have held a grudge. That said though, I did end up feeling nothing but pity for Marin from the beginning of this book til the end. It is a long meandering story, but eventually you get to see the real grandfather that she had and you realize that she has been cheated of a life where she could have grown up listening to stories about her mother, looking at pictures of her mother, even getting her mother’s hand me downs. A character tells Marin late in the book that she has been betrayed, and honestly she was. There was a scene earlier in the book that I felt was off based on her grandfather’s reaction (he is angry that a nun dares to talk about grief with him over losing his wife and then his daughter) and of course later I get to the reveals and realize why it read as off to me.

But since most of the book is Marin hiding the truth about her life for most of the book until the very end you may get bored and quit before the revelations are brought forth.

Then I think that LaCour made a mistake with her ending. I think since most of the book was in a deep/dark place, to have it change pretty suddenly the way it did, didn’t feel realistic. For me, I wanted someone somewhere to sit down and have a conversation with Marin about her options and how maybe going out of state and spending a crap ton of money on school was not the smartest thing.

I can see how for Marin it may have been easier for her to just go off and pretend to be some other girl, but honestly it strained credibility with me that she would be able to just go off an hide and no one from the police, insurance company, mortgage company for their home/car, etc. would just quietly went away. I mean a freaking bill collector called me the day of my mother’s funeral and did not give two craps about the fact that I was about to head to the Church. Also, Discover, this is why I loathe you to this day.

Anyway, we hear through the whole book about her roommate Hannah and of course Mabel. And I wish that LaCour had added in more information about Hannah. Cause for me, Hannah was the unsung hero in this book. She realized that something awful had occurred with Marin and drew her back into the world. And I smiled at the scene we get of Marin finally decorating her side of the room and texting a picture of it to Hannah who sends back two high fives with a heart in between the high fives. So when Mabel asks Marin about someone else maybe being there that Marin is interested in, my first thought was honestly of Hannah.

I was already guessing where things were going with Mabel, but reading about Marin angsting about it through the majority of the book just left me bored. I will say though that LaCour does a great job of showing that just because Marin wanted to pretend the world stopped that other people had to go on.

The writing I found to be too descriptive though. There’s a lot of commentary about loneliness, ghosts, Jane Eyre, etc. I know as a reader I am supposed to be thinking about how Marin has lived with her mother’s ghost all her life and how she doesn’t even know much about her due to her grandfather not discussing her with him. But by the end of the book we definitely get clued in how a person’s ghost can leave some people gutted past healing.

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LaCour keys you into timelines though cause at the very bottom of a chapter ending in text she will show you the month you are reading about. If there is nothing there though (date wise) just know yo you are back in the present with Marin (December).

The flow was up and down through the whole book and I found some of the chapters choppy.

The setting of New York felt cold, dark, and lonely. I can’t imagine just sitting in a dorm over the holiday break for about a month. Also, am I just too old now, but I recall when I was in school no one was allowed to be in the dorms during the holiday breaks and over the summer.

The ending I know was supposed to leave me warm and happy, but instead my first thought was that someone needs to hog tie Marin and take her back to California.

three-stars

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silveria

More Happy Than Not by Adam SilveriaMore Happy Than Not Published by Soho Teen on June 2, 2015
Genres: YA, Glbt
Pages: 304
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
three-stars

In the months after his father's suicide, it's been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again--but he's still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he's slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron's crew notices, and they're not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can't deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can't stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute's revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

This was recommended to me since I loved “Everyone We’ve Been.” This book has a similar setup teen gets to a tough moment in life and wants to go an institute and get his memoires suppressed. However, there’s a twist and then even more after that. I felt for the character of Aaron Soto. However, I found the teen to at times be selfish when the truth comes out and he demands that other people who are not ready are weaker than him which made me uncomfortable. Some of the other characters motivations in this book felt off to me and the ending didn’t work.

Aaron Soto is a typical teenager who is in love with his girlfriend. He is nervous about losing his virginity to her and that he will be terrible. He is also still recovering from the fact that his father committed suicide. We don’t get a lot of details until the middle of the book to find out what caused Aaron’s father to commit suicide. Aaron’s mother and brother are distant from him and he only feels connected to his neighborhood friends. When Aaron meets newcomer Thomas, all of a sudden Aaron starts to feel different and finds himself leaning on Thomas when his girlfriend goes away to art camp. When Aaron comes to a realization that he is gay and in love with Thomas he seeks out the Leteo Institute in order to have his memory of bring gay removed.

I give insta-love crap no matter the setup, and the insta-love in this book between Thomas and Aaron didn’t work. I think they hung out for two weeks or so and it seems weird to me that Aaron would all of a sudden go from I am in love with this boy I just met. Speaking of Thomas, he felt like a blank slate. I didn’t get his character period. Aaron constantly asserts that Thomas had to be scared of coming out and implies that Thomas is in love with him. Everytime we “see” Thomas he looks bad and like he’s slowly being drained of life. Due to an attack that happens to Aaron, I got the worry, but everything after that felt like an over reaction. Maybe Silvia was just showing us that Aaron’s perspective was skewed, when it came to Thomas, I don’t know.

I really can’t say much about anyone else in this book without spoilers, so I’ll skip over them. I will say that Aaron’s father’s suicide doesn’t make sense to me when we find out why he did it. I guess I just don’t see it as something believable. I don’t know. Also there were so many vague details concerning Aaron’s father I was once again wondering what was going on until pretty much the end.

The writing was okay and I think since I read “Everyone We’ve Been” the twist was expected. Everything after the twists though felt rushed. The flow was up and down and too and I still scratched my head a bit about some of the narrative choices Silvia takes.

The setting of the Bronx in this type of futuristic setting seems poorer and more brutal than what I think it is like in real life. What I thought was odd was this world feels pretty mundane even with the idea of the institute.

The ending was sad and I think a bit of a cheat.

three-stars

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