Everyone Will Be Okay

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour penguinrandomhouse.com

Alexis Yang, Staff Writer

There’s something magical about a good novel. Characters materialize in your living room, the subway, the dentist’s office. A fictional voice echoes in your head. The book leaves you with a feeling that lingers long after you’ve closed it.

Nina LaCour’s 2017 novel We Are Okay is a powerful, unique addition to the young adult genre. With heartfelt storytelling, LaCour creates an immersive experience that is sure to linger with readers for days.

Marin Delaney is a lonely freshman at college in New York. Months after her grandfather’s death and three thousand miles away from her home state of California, she is alone on campus for Christmas break. For Marin, New York is an escape. After her grandfather’s death, she began to question everything she knew. In an attempt to cover up the past, she cut herself off from contact with everyone from her past life, including her best friend Mabel. When Mabel visits, Marin is forced to face the ghosts of her past.

We Are Okay is largely character-driven fiction. There are no gunshots, no fight scenes, no car chases. As pages turn, characters become more and more multidimensional. LaCour proves that riveting stories don’t need to be action-packed. She presents the reader with quiet ingenuity, with literary elements seamlessly meshed with young adult fiction. Though the characters do not undergo outwardly dramatic changes, present in YA novels such as Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, the subtlety of Marin’s transformation is impactful.

LaCour begins with a portrait of the present, then chips away at layers of the past. She explores themes of loss, loneliness, and reconciliation. Although Marin’s logic is not always rational, LaCour crafts language so that readers will find themselves absorbed in Marin’s thoughts and feelings. Marin’s narration feels authentic and unique, enough to stick in readers’ heads. For instance, LaCour powerfully conveys Marin’s depth of thought (“and now it’s almost three already and I’ve wasted these hours and it’s becoming difficult to breathe”) as well as emotion (“I listened to the same heartbroken song the entire bus ride home, because it was still a summer when sadness was beautiful”). No matter where you read this book, you will feel as though you are in Marin’s bleak New York winter.

Powerfully touching and subtly brilliant, We Are Okay is about hope. It’s about moving forward and appreciating those you love. If you are looking for a novel that moves you, engrosses you, stays in your head for days after you’ve finished it, then this one’s for you.

We Are Okay is available on amazon.com for $12.59 and can be found at the Smithtown Library. It is also available at Smithtown High School East’s library.

Photo Credit: penguinrandomhouse.com