Review: We are Okay - Nina LaCour
Genre: YA Contemporary
Published: Dutton Books, february 2017 My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, all time favourite
This review is going to be a bit more personal than you might be used to from me...
“I was okay once, I will be okay again”.
If there is one thing I want you to take away from this review, it’s that quote. If there is a second thing I wish you would take away from this review, it’s that that book is a masterpiece. A masterpiece that I cannot review. I will try, but as with many of my all-time-favorites, I will feel like my words have not done the experience justice. I have read We are Okay 3 separate times now, the latter two times with the intent do review it, and keep finding myself at a loss of words after finishing it. It’s the bookish equivalent of going to a play or movie and having the crowd be completely silent after the last line is spoken, before starting to their ovation. I’m currently still stuck in that heavy silence.
This book reminded me of an experience I had myself, exactly two years before my first time reading it: It was my first year of college, Christmasbreak. I was one of the few students left at my studentcomplex (kind of the Dutch equivalent to a dorm-building), after everybody had headed home to celebrate the holiday with family. My mom past away a few winters before that, my dog (the last connection to my family home, I felt) a week before, and my dad had taken his new girlfriend on a holiday. In my new collegeroom, miles away from one of my parents and an unfathomable distance from the other, I felt alone. I felt, in the most literal sense of the word, “homeless”. Yet that same semester, and the years that followed, mark the most positive change in my life so far. That lonely, empty room was also my blank canvas. The bare foundation from which to build something new. At its core, I think We are Okay describes this experience perfectly. It’s a universal experience, that I think many college students, or anyone going away from home for the first time, can relate to. The feeling of loneliness, losing your home and starting a new one. Just like the memory of that winter, this book is filled with contradictory feelings. It’s filled with so much sadness and loneliness, and yet brimming with hope. It’s filled with love (including an LGBTQ-romance) and grief. Longing and fear. Wanting to prove that you can do it all by yourself, yet wanting nothing more than to have a good cry on you mothers shoulder. Feeling homesick, but feeling unsure if you even have a home to go back to.
As a final contradiction; for a book that is all about loneliness, it made me feel incredibly connected. The more often I reread it, the more the latter stands out to me. It’s a bit like a hug in book-form: knowing that an author out there wrote this, reading reviews from other people that related to this, it made me feel like I am not alone, and that everything is going to be okay.
“I was okay once, I will be okay again...”
So will you...