“The trouble with denial is that when the truth comes, you aren’t ready.” CBR9 Review 35.

UnknownI’ve been somewhat slow with my reviews lately, mostly because the books that I’ve been reading have taken me a bit of time to process. In fact, I’m not quite sure I’m done figuring them out yet.

I first saw We are Okay at the library on the new YA shelf. The cover drew me in, it had those same dreamy pinks and blues as the Paper Girls cover, and it just looked so familiar to me.


Going in to read it, I had no idea what it was about. The blurb on the jacket was pretty vague:

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.

I knew it was probably going to be sad. But I had no idea that it would be devastating in both its sadness and its hope.

Marin (pronounced like the County) is finishing up her first semester at college in New York, and has made arrangements with the school to stay in her dorm room for the entire month of Christmas break. Her roommate begs her to come home with her, but Marin can’t face a happy family holiday. Marin has nowhere else to go, no family to take her in. And so she stays.

Mabel, her best friend from California is coming to visit and Marin knows that she’s going to have to explain herself to her. Apparently, Marin disappeared completely, running off to college after a family tragedy, leaving everything behind and telling nobody where she was. And Marin hasn’t spoken of it since, to anyone. Not her roommate, not any friends. And now she’s going to have to own up to her actions and the effect that they may have had on the others in her life.

The prose in this book was simply beautiful. Marin’s loss and profound sadness hit me like a lead balloon. The simple ways that she described everyday things like the beauty of the beach or a first kiss were lovely. But it was so sad. To have to endure so much at such a young age, and to be kept in the dark about her family for so long was simply heartbreaking.

But there was hope in the end. And I was glad. Without it, this simple story might have been too much for me to bear. It made me cry like a little baby, but they were tears of happiness for Marin.

This story was short and I read it in one sitting. I know its not exactly frothy and light “beach reading,” but its so well done, try and make time for it this summer if you can.



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