Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers


We Are Okay Review

April 5, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★

We Are Okay ReviewWe Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers on February 14th 2017
Pages: 234
Source: Library
Also by this author: Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, You Know Me Well
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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.

Not going to lie to you guys, I desperately wanted to like We Are Okay. I liked Nina’s book Everything Leads to You. Though I wasn’t a fan of her recent book You Know Me Well with David Levithan, I thought I’d try this one anyway. Sadly, this didn’t work for me to say the least. I don’t know, I was just ridiculously bored. It was a short book, and I felt like nothing really happened. There was barely any character development, which made me sad. Nina LaCour is a great author, and her sentences are extremely pretty. I just wasn’t able to connect with this story on any level. I’m sure there are plenty of readers who will like it, I’m not one of them.

Marin is an okay character. I totally feel for her as she struggles with grief over the loss of her grandpa. Her mom died when she was little and her dad was never in the picture, so her grandpa was her family. So yeah, I sympathized with her. Look, this might sound insensitive, but I didn’t really understand why she felt so betrayed by her grandpa. It felt like she was being a little selfish about what her grandpa went through. Like Cait said, maybe I just missed something, but it seemed like a weird thing to be so upset about. I also didn’t get why it was so hard to be in the town again. Like what did EVERYONE in the town do to you? Maybe it was the memories that she associated it with, but I still didn’t fully understand that. I was confused by the whole thing.

Another disappointment was the romance. I guess you could say the love interest was her best friend Mabel, but not really since nothing happens between them in the present. It all happened back before Marin’s grandpa died and she shut Mabel out completely. So she comes to Marin’s dorm over Christmas break because she hasn’t talked to her since she left and doesn’t know the full story. I guess she’s a good friend to Marin for the most part but I just didn’t care enough about it. I was really bothered by the fact that they’d been together in the past, but it was barely mentioned at all by the girls in the present. It would be okay if it was just a one time thing, but they seemed to really love each other, or at least Marin loved her. I’m fine with Mabel being bisexual and having a boyfriend now. I wasn’t alright with how she actually said that she wouldn’t have been with her boyfriend in Marin would have just texted her back. Realistically, it seems like it would have been difficult for them to be in a long distance relationship, she might have fallen for him even if they were still together. It just bugged me that she claimed to understand why Marin shut her out, but still basically blamed her for leading her to Jacob. I wasn’t a fan of how Mabel was pushing her at the end of the book to find a girlfriend. It felt like she was only doing that to ease her own guilt since she knows that Marin still has strong feelings for her. Mabel had very little character development as well.

I’ve seen pretty much all positive reviews about this book. For whatever reason, it didn’t click for me. I didn’t have a strong emotional connection to the characters or the plot at all. I think it could have been a bit longer and faster paced. I found myself very bored and just ready for it to end, which is never a good sign for me. Maybe I’ll eventually end up giving this author another chance, but this didn’t end up leaving a good impression on me personally. I see where people are coming from with all the nice things being said, but I simply don’t feel the same. If you like emotional contemporary reads, maybe this will be your cup of tea. I usually like emotional books, but I wasn’t able to connect with the characters or the romance.



Exit, Pursued by a Bear Review

April 13, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★★

Exit, Pursued by a Bear ReviewExit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers on March 15th 2016
Pages: 256
Source: Purchased
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“I love you,” Polly says suddenly when I’m almost to the door.
“I know,” I say.

Hermione Winters has been a flyer. She’s been captain of her cheerleading team. The envied girlfriend and the undisputed queen of her school. Now it’s her last year and those days and those labels are fading fast. In a few months she’ll be a different person. She thinks she’s ready for whatever comes next.
But then someone puts something in her drink at a party, and in an instant she finds herself wearing new labels, ones she never imagined:
Victim. Survivor. That raped girl.
Even though this was never the future she imagined, one essential thing remains unchanged: Hermione can still call herself Polly Olivier’s best friend, and that may be the truest label of all.
Heartbreaking and empowering, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is the story of transcendent friendship in the face of trauma.
“I love you,” I say, because I really, really do.
“I know,” says Polly.

This book honestly blew me away. I’ve never read anything by the author before, but the plot immediately sounded intriguing to me. I’m a fan of books that discuss rape culture because it’s such an unfortunately relevant thing in our world today. That being said, I’ve been anticipating the release of this for months and months now. It did not disappoint me in the slightest, it ended up being an incredible read about friendship, sexual assault, cheerleading, getting ready for college, and growing up. 

Our protagonist is Hermione, senior (they say it differently in Canada but still means the same) and captain of her cheerleading team. She’s one of the most popular girls in school, but at this point she cares more about graduating and going to college. Though I’m going to talk about what happened to her later, for now I want to focus on who she is. She’s a strong and smart girl who is still trying to figure out what she wants to do with the rest of her life. She’s also a great leader and her teammates respect her. Hermione doesn’t let what people say about her stop her from going on with her life. It’s pretty difficult not to like this girl. 

Usually, I talk about the love interest here. There’s kind of one here, but the point of the book isn’t the romance so I’m not going to talk about him. Instead, I want to talk about Polly, Hermione’s best friend. She’s easily my favorite character. This is exactly the type of friend that everyone needs. She’s beyond loyal to her best friend. She knows how to be there for her without pushing her too far. At times, she’s just physically there for Hermione and no words need to be said. I was also happy that Polly ended up getting her happily ever after with her girlfriend. 

What happened to Hermione was that she was date raped while away at cheerleading camp. It’s obviously a very painful and horrifying incident. I’ve only read one other YA book that features date rape. That book was What Happens Next, one of my favorites, but the MC still has some interaction with her rapist. In this, she has no idea who he is, and the story doesn’t revolve around figuring out who it was. It’s more about the aftermath, learning how to move on with your life. I always feel weird rating a book about rape since it’s never happened to me, and it is such a personal thing. That being said, I still feel like this story was the perfect balance of informative and sensitive when approaching this topic. 

Exit, Pursued by a Bear was a fabulous read for me. This was rather short, it went by really quickly. You could easily finish it in only one sitting. It has a wonderful message about friendship and also being able to move on. Polly and Hermione have a beautiful and unbreakable friendship that you can’t help but long to have as well. Clearly, Hermione is just trying to move on with her life. She can’t remember what happened to her, but she still has to find a way to get through the aftermath of it all. If you’re looking for a well written YA book that handles a dark topic in a lovely way, you need to read this one.