We Are Okay

Nina LaCour

We Are Okay
University of Queensland Press
5 March 2019

We Are Okay

Nina LaCour

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 far 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.


This moving novel creates the claustrophobia and snowy hush of seventeen-year-old student Marin’s winter break, which she’s chosen to spend in the empty dorms of her upstate New York college. This decision is part of a year spent deliberately removing herself from her previous life in California, after a shocking revelation about the grandfather who raised her.

Loss and loneliness are at the heart of this layered, considered and ultimately lifeaffirming novel. Marin misses her mother, who died when she was young; she misses her grandfather, even though she feels she barely knows him now; and she misses her closest friend and ex-girlfriend Mabel, who is due to visit her for three days. When Mabel arrives, both young women are relieved, overwhelmed and cautious, but they struggle to close the distance between them.

LaCour’s writing is precise and economical, while still evoking vivid and complete emotional and physical environments. The isolation and intimacy caused by the extreme wintry weather leave Marin and Mabel with nowhere to hide, and they gradually excavate the history of their friendship and Marin’s family secrets. It can be a dangerous thing to have a novel pivot on a reveal or twist, but in this case, when the truth at the heart of Marin’s family is uncovered, it deepens everything the reader has previously understood about her story.

This is a beautiful and sombre read that restores faith in connection after disconnection, love after loss, and reminds us that solace can always be found by seeking understanding and support from other people. For ages 14+.

Leanne Hall is a children’s and YA specialist at Readings Kids. She also writes books for children and young adults.

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