Details & Summary:
There are many different ways to deal with grief, but Marin chooses solitude after her Gramps dies. She leaves everyone she loves behind – most notably, her best friend and girlfriend Mabel – and spends her winter break alone on an empty campus. But then Mabel crosses the country and visits Marin, putting an end to her solitude but not her loneliness.
“We are so alone. Mabel and I are standing side by side, but we can’t even see each other. In the distance are the lights of town. People must be finishing their workdays, picking up their kids, figuring out dinner. They’re talking to one another in easy voices about things of great significance and things that don’t mean much. The distance between us and all of that living feels insurmountable.”
From their interactions and conversations, it’s clear that the girls know each other very well. They know when to talk and when not to, they know what the other likes, when to be serious and when to joke. We learn more about how their relationship came to be through flashbacks set over the summer break.
The flashbacks serve several plot points: it explores the relationship between Marin and Mabel, but – more importantly – sets up the mystery. Why did Marin leave? How did Gramps die? What happened between them?
I’ll be honest: it’s a very slow reveal. The plot doesn’t progress in leaps and bounds. It’s a slow burn where a lot of time is spent on details. How Marin and Gramps lived together yet had separate lives, how their knees touched under the table, how he baked cakes for her, how Gramps exchanged love letters with Birdie, how Marin desperately tries to remember her mother who died when she was three …
LaCour captures Marin’s loneliness and silent desperation perfectly, not only through her words but also through setting (an abandoned campus in a NY snow storm) and (lack of) action. I also enjoyed the relationships, especially the camaraderie between Gramps and Marin and the friendship that blossomed into something more between Marin and Mabel.
However, since the book progressed so slowly, I found it a bit boring at times and felt tempted to skip a few pages. You get plenty of flashbacks into Marin’s old life, but I didn’t really understand who she was as a person when she wasn’t with Mabel or Gramps. And while I could imagine how she must be feeling and felt bad for her, I didn’t connect to her on a deeper level.
We Are Okay explores grief and loneliness and the complicated relationship between a girl and her grandfather. It also features a f/f relationship that had plenty of complexity without ever feeling the need to label or discuss it. While I enjoyed reading this book, it didn’t pack an emotional punch for me the way History is All You Left Me With by Adam Silvera did.
People who don’t mind a slow build-up and the characters being the focus of the story.