I love the sort of books where, at first, it seems as though nothing happens. But I read and read and read and, by the time I'm finshed, I realize that everything has happened. And by "everything," I mean EVERYTHING. The book as brought out all the feels, forced me to break out the tissues, and I am not the same person as I was before I read it.
We Are Okay, the latest by Nina LaCour, is like that.
In under 250 pages, it tells the story of Marin, a college freshman who is alone on campus for three weeks holiday break. Not by choice, but because she has nothing to go back to. At least, she believes she has nothing to go back to. So I suppose her exile, her solitude, IS by choice.
But she won't be absolutely alone for the entire time.
There is Tommy, the campus groundskeeper, who has agreed to check in on Marin from time to time. Just to make sure...
There is also Mabel, Marin's best friend from back home, traveling from California to New York to visit for a few days.
At least... Mabel and Marin used to be best friends.
But that was before Marin's grandfather and only family drowned, quite possibly on purpose. That was before Marin learned the truth: that her entire life up until that point had been a lie.
That was before...
Unable to deal, Marin ran away. Without a word. Not even goodbye.
Marin and Mabel haven't spoken in months. Sure, Mabel has texted and called and emailed, but her communications were ignored. Marin isn't angry. She just can't. Not yet. Maybe not ever.
But as a blizzard sweeps across the state, causing widespread power outages, the girls become trapped on campus. They're forced to talk about the past and confront the restless ghosts that lurk there. They must face what brought, not only Marin, but also Mabel to this point. This place.
And maybe then, and ONLY then, things can be okay.
Or, at least, start to be that way.
We Are Okay is one of those books that surprised me. Sure, I've read this author before. And sure, I enjoyed what I read. But I didn't expect to love this book the way I did. I didn't expect it to make me FEEL so deeply.
Everyone, no matter who they are, has faced a turning point in their life. Maybe they didn't go through the sort of tragedy Marin faced, but everyone has (or will) come to a time when they need to step away from things in order to get a better perspective. And when they step back into life, they're changed. They emerge a deeper, better, more worldly version of themself. And they can never go back. But that's ok.
I felt the author did an exceptional job conveying this time of transition. The characters, their journey, their development... All if it was beautifully done.
Absolutely recommended! --AJB