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We Are Okay
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We Are Okay
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Winner of the 2018 Michael L. Printz Award — An achingly beautiful novel about grief and the enduring power of friendship."Short, poetic and gorgeously written." —The New York Times Book...
Winner of the 2018 Michael L. Printz Award — An achingly beautiful novel about grief and the enduring power of friendship."Short, poetic and gorgeously written." —The New York Times Book...
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  • Winner of the 2018 Michael L. Printz Award — An achingly beautiful novel about grief and the enduring power of friendship.
    "Short, poetic and gorgeously written." —The New York Times Book Review

    "A beautiful, devastating piece of art.
    "Bookpage
    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.

    An intimate whisper that packs an indelible punch, We Are Okay is Nina LaCour at her finest. This gorgeously crafted and achingly honest portrayal of grief will leave you urgent to reach across any distance to reconnect with the people you love.
    Praise for We Are Okay

    "Nina LaCour treats her emotions so beautifully and with such empathy." —Bustle
    "Exquisite."Kirkus
    ★ "LaCour paints a captivating depiction of loss, bewilderment, and emotional paralysis . . . raw and beautiful." —Booklist
    ★ "Beautifully crafted . . . . A quietly moving, potent novel." —SLJ
    ★ "A moving portrait of a girl struggling to rebound after everything she's known has been thrown into disarray." —Publishers Weekly
    ★"Bittersweet and hopeful . . . poetic and skillfully crafted." —Shelf Awareness
    "So lonely and beautiful that I could hardly breathe. This is a perfect book." —Stephanie Perkins, bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss
    "As beautiful as the best memories, as sad as the best songs, as hopeful as your best dreams."
    —Siobhan Vivian, bestselling author of The Last Boy and Girl in the World
    "You can feel every peak and valley of Marin's emotional journey on your skin, in your gut. Beautifully written, heartfelt, and deeply real." —Adi Alsaid, author of Never Always Sometimes and Let's Get Lost
 

Awards-

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    CHAPTER ONE

    Before Hannah left, she asked if I was sure I'd be okay. She had already waited an hour past when the doors were closed for winter break, until everyone but the custodians were gone. She had folded a load of laundry, written an email, searched her massive psychology textbook for an­swers to the final exam questions to see if she had gotten them right. She had run out of ways to fill time, so when I said, "Yes, I'll be fine," she had nothing left to do except try to believe me.

    I helped her carry a bag downstairs. She gave me a hug, tight and official, and said, "We'll be back from my aunt's on the twenty-eighth. Take the train down and we'll go to shows."

    I said yes, not knowing if I meant it. When I returned to our room, I found she'd snuck a sealed envelope onto my pillow.

    And now I'm alone in the building, staring at my name written in Hannah's pretty cursive, trying to not let this tiny object undo me.

    I have a thing about envelopes, I guess. I don't want to open it. I don't really even want to touch it, but I keep telling myself that it will only be something nice. A Christmas card. Maybe with a special message inside, maybe with nothing but a signature. Whatever it is, it will be harmless.

    The dorms are closed for the monthlong semester break, but my adviser helped me arrange to stay here. The admin­istration wasn't happy about it. Don't you have any family? they kept asking. What about friends you can stay with? This is where I live now, I told them. Where I will live until I graduate. Eventually, they surrendered. A note from the Res­idential Services Manager appeared under my door a couple days ago, saying the groundskeeper would be here through­out the holiday, giving me his contact information. Anything at all, she wrote. Contact him if you need anything at all.

    Things I need: The California sunshine. A more convinc­ing smile.

    Without everyone's voices, the TVs in their rooms, the faucets running and toilets flushing, the hums and dings of the microwaves, the footsteps and the doors slamming—without all of the sounds of living—this building is a new and strange place. I've been here for three months, but I hadn't noticed the sound of the heater until now.

    It clicks on: a gust of warmth.

    I'm alone tonight. Tomorrow, Mabel will arrive and stay for three days, and then I'll be alone again until the middle of January. "If I were spending a month alone," Hannah said yesterday, "I would start a meditation practice. It's clinically proven to lower blood pressure and boost brain activity. It even helps your immune system." A few minutes later she pulled a book out of her backpack. "I saw this in the book­store the other day. You can read it first if you want."

    She tossed it on my bed. An essay collection on solitude.

    I know why she's afraid for me. I first appeared in this doorway two weeks after Gramps died. I stepped in—a stunned and feral stranger—and now I'm someone she knows, and I need to stay that way. For her and for me.


    Only an hour in, and already the first temptation: the warmth of my blankets and bed, my pillows and the fake-fur throw Hannah's mom left here after a weekend visit. They're all saying, Climb in. No one will know if you stay in bed all day. No one will know if you wear the same sweatpants for the entire month, if you eat every meal in front of television shows and use T-shirts as napkins. Go ahead and listen to that same song on repeat until its sound turns to nothing and you sleep the winter away.

    I only have Mabel's visit to get...

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from December 5, 2016
    Over the winter holidays, college freshman Marin opts to remain in an empty dorm in New York rather than go home to California. The reasons she decides to stay gently unfold one layer at a time, in an introspective novel that powerfully explores her solitude and conflicted emotions against the backdrop of a stormy, icy winter. Marin’s temptation to burrow under the covers and “stay in bed all day” has to be put on hold when an old friend, Mabel, comes for a visit. As Mabel attempts to persuade Marin to return to San Francisco (at least for a while), Marin is forced to confront the past she is trying to forget, namely the summer that began with Marin and Mabel taking their friendship into thrilling new territory and ended with the death of Marin’s caretaker grandfather and the exposure of disturbing secrets. Through Marin’s memories and cautious conversations with Mabel, LaCour (Hold Still) conjures a moving portrait of a girl struggling to rebound after everything she’s known has been thrown into disarray. Ages 14–up. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from December 1, 2016
    "If only lonely were a more accurate word. It should sound much less pretty." It's December in New York, and college freshman Marin is in her dorm room, contemplating a solitary monthlong stay after everyone else has left for winter break. Her single respite will be a brief visit from her best friend, Mabel. Marin is dreading the stay for reasons that are revealed in flashbacks: she fled San Francisco without informing anyone after the sudden death of her beloved Gramps, who raised her. Over the course of three days, secrets about Gramps, Marin's long-dead mother, and the girls' complicated relationship are revealed in short, exquisite sentences that evoke myriad emotions with a minimum of words. "I must have shut grief out. Found it in books. Cried over fiction instead of the truth. The truth was unconfined, unadorned. There was no poetic language to it, no yellow butterflies, no epic floods....The truth was vast enough to drown in." A surprise arrival at story's end leads to a tearful resolution of Marin's sorrow and a heartfelt renewal of her relationship with Mabel and her family. Mexican-American Mabel speaks Spanish, while an absence of markers indicates Marin is likely white. An elegantly crafted paean to the cleansing power of truth. (Fiction. 12 & up)

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from December 1, 2016

    Gr 8 Up-Her first semester of college behind her, Marin stays alone in the dorms over break, even with the threat of a snowstorm looming, rather than return to San Francisco, where bad memories lurk. Her best friend Mabel comes to stay with her, and over the next few days, Marin contemplates the events of last spring and summer and deals with her complicated relationship with Mabel. Slowly, readers learn more about Marin's life: the surfer mother who drowned when Marin was young, the father she never knew, the loving grandfather who raised her but whose concealed secrets kept a wall between them, and the painful events that sent Marin fleeing San Francisco. LaCour's use of settings is masterly: frigid and desolate upstate New York reflects Marin's alienation, while vibrant San Francisco evokes moments of joy. Though there's little action, with most of the writing devoted to Marin's memories, thoughts, and musings, the author's nuanced and sensitive depiction of the protagonist's complex and turbulent inner life makes for a rich narrative. Marin is a beautifully crafted character, and her voice is spot-on, conveying isolation, grief, and, eventually, hope. With hauntingly spare prose, the emphasis on the past, and references to gothic tales such as The Turning of the Screw and Jane Eyre, this is realistic fiction edged with the melancholy tinge of a ghost story. VERDICT A quietly moving, potent novel that will appeal to teens, especially fans of Laurie Halse Anderson and Sara Zarr.-Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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