Review: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

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

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.

“If our past selves got a glimpse of us now, what would they make of us?”

This book came so unexpectedly into my life, but I’m eternally grateful that it did so. There’s simply so much to love about We Are Okay that I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed writing this, but thankfully lists exist for me to break it down point by point:

  • We have a switching narrative between the past and future, which adds tremendously to the ongoing intrigue. Usually with books that have a similar structure, I struggle connecting with either the past or the present but that was not the case with We Are Okay. Far from it, actually. I kept switching my love for the chapters set in the past and those set in the present.
  • The author gets so many things right. From leaving your home and friends and childhood behind, to tackling loneliness, grief, friendship, f/f love, bisexuality, heartbreak, and talking about books and paintings, positive adult figures, and so much more. But I especially want to address how Marin’s broken longing felt so palpable. I could virtually feel her grief coming off the page, which is by no means an easy feat to achieve in writing.
  • Speaking of, LaCour’s words blew me off the page. I just loved how certain scenes drew a perfectly fitting picture in my mind.

Exhibit A:

“She leans over our table and turns the sign in the window so that it says CLOSED on the outside. But on our side, perfectly positioned between Mabel’s place and mine, it says OPEN. If this were a short story, it would mean something.”

I had to laugh at how witty that passage was.

And then hiding my smile at this gentle and still scene following at nighttime:

“So I turn over and find Mabel closer to me than I’d realized. I wait a minute there to see if she’ll move away, but she doesn’t. I wrap my arm around her waist, and she relaxes into me. My head nestles in the curve behind her neck; my knees pull up to fit the space behind hers.
She might be asleep. I’ll only stay here for a couple of minutes. Only until I thaw completely. Until it’s enough to remind me what it feels like to be close to another person, enough to last me for another span of months. I breathe her in. Tell myself I need to turn away.
Soon. But not yet.
“Don’t disappear again,” she says. “Okay?”
Her hair is soft against my face.
“Promise me.”
“I promise.”

My heart. These two have my heart.

  • The summer chapters are set in San Francisco, mainly at the beach, which is one of my all-time favorite locations.

“Tourists descended onto our beach, sat in our usual places, so we borrowed Ana’s car and crossed the Golden Gate to find a tiny piece of ocean to have for ourselves. We ate fish-and-chips in a dark pub that belonged in a different country, and we collected beach glass instead of shells, and we kissed in the redwoods, we kissed in the water, we kissed in movie theaters all over the city during matinees and late-night showings. We kissed in bookstores and record stores and dressing rooms. We kissed outside of the Lexington because we were too young to get in. We looked inside its doors at all the women there with short hair and long hair, lipstick and tattoos, tight dresses and tight jeans, button-ups and camisoles, and we pictured ourselves among them.”tumblr_oawgnvocw51qgt42uo7_500

  • And since Marin’s from San Francisco but moved to NYC for college, the winter chapters set for the perfectly gloomy and quiet atmosphere. And as this books mentions, “It was quiet, maybe, but it wasn’t simple.”
  • I loved the attention paid to details. You could tell how much the story meant to the author just by little things such as the names of the girls:

“Just different enough,” I said.
“As usual.”
Since we’d met, we had a thing for our names’ symmetry. An M followed by a vowel, then a consonant, then a vowel, then a consonant. We thought it was important. We thought it must have meant something. Like a similar feeling must have passed through our mothers as they named us. Like destiny was at work already. We may have been in different countries, but it was only a matter of time before we would collide into each other.”

  • And now that I’ve successfully circled back to my favorites, I have to talk about how stunningly earnest their relationship felt. We get to see them through all the stages: from strangers to friends to lovers to something more to something undefinable and then… And then going back and forth until they find their footing. It was everything I wanted and more. They’re so good for one another.
  • Like I wrote in my review for Queens of Geek, I live for books that write about girls. Girls supporting girls. Girls loving girls. Girls, girls, girls!!! And so this book fulfilled my heart while reading about Marin’s remarkable roommate and compassionate new boss and noteworthy best friend.

“I look at her. I wish her everything good. A friendly cab driver and short lines through security. A flight with no turbulence and an empty seat next to her. A beautiful Christmas. I wish her more happiness than can fit in a person. I wish her the kind of happiness that spills over.”

This is still one of the kindest things I’ve ever read. My eyes are burning again.

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  • Side note: the amount of times my eyes teared up while reading was low-key alarming. But it was like I couldn’t help it, especially towards the end. Like Marin said, “I was crying, trying not to cry.” We Are Okay is tragic and hopeful and morose and every adjective in the world that will help encompass the beauty of this story.
  • And last but not least, I delighted in the fact that the families played such a big part in this book. Specifically centering on Mabel’s Mexican-American family and how fervently they welcomed Marin with open arms. Ana and Javier are two of the kindest souls and made my heart swell more than once with their words and actions.

All in all: I’m beyond grateful that I picked this up on a whim because I don’t think I’ll find anything like it soon. But I know that I’ll look forward to any of Nina LaCour’s future works to come out.

P.S. This song felt really fitting for the mood this story is conveying (since it also mentions summertime and being seventeen and drinking whiskey). I listened to it on repeat until, to paraphrase this book, its sound turned to nothing.

5/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying We Are Okay, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

“You’ve never been in anyone’s shadow. You are your own light source.”

Twelve reasons why I became totally smitten with Queens of Geek:

1. Set around SupaCon, we follow three lively best friends attending the convention: Charlie Liang, a Chinese-Australian actor with gorgeous pink hair. Pro fangirl Taylor who has autism spectrum disorder and deals with anxiety. And “Flirty McFlirtersons” Jamie who’s one of the kindest and also “got the whole Peter Parker thing down to a tee, right down to the camera hanging around his neck.”
I love me some Peter Parker.

2. I nearly passed out from joy at all the pop culture references thrown in here… IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES. From video games and comics to Felicia Day to Youtubers to the cast of The Vampire Diaries (my past self was over the moon at that last one), this book had it all.
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3. I was so lost into this book that I barely noticed what was going on around me. My eyes were practically glued to the pages, so the above gif is a pretty accurate portrayal of what I looked like throughout.

4. A f/f love story. Charlie and Alyssa (my intersectional feminist queen!!!), two of the most smart, compassionate, and outspoken characters I’ve read as of late, we’re seamlessly perfect together.

“It feels good to talk to someone who’s in a position similar to mine, who’s finding herself more and more in the public eye, and who’s being herself in a world that tells her not to.”

5. Charlie’s bisexuality is talked about on the page and not just hinted at!!!

“I love everything about crushes. The butterflies, the possibilities, the giddy wonder of it all. But this is the first time I’ve liked a girl who might actually like me back. The moment I first realized I’m into more than one gender was a quiet one. It was sudden and almost anticlimactic, so it’s not a particularly exciting story.
I was fourteen, and by that time I’d had more than one crush on a girl, mostly movie stars. But I never interpreted my feelings as a crush; I just thought I admired them a whole lot. It didn’t occur to me that those feelings were similar to the way I felt about guys I liked.
I saw a post on Tumblr with the title “You Won’t Believe These Actresses Are Bisexual” or something stupid like that. I didn’t really know what that meant at the time, so I googled it. It didn’t take long to recognize myself in many of the articles I found.”

And not only that, but the book also took the time to talk about bi-phobia and bi-erasure, AND I’M SO THANKFUL!!

“But how could you possibly know you’re bi? Have you ever been with a girl?”
I remember seeing the frustration written all over Charlie’s face, and I spoke up. “How did you know you were straight before you were with a girl, Reese?”

That was exactly my response to his ignorant question. Side note: I hate Reese with the fire of a thousand suns.

“He’s all for equality, but he doesn’t even believe bisexuality exists.” She rubbed her fingers over the space between her eyebrows like she had a headache. “You can’t pick and choose whose equality you support. That’s not equality.”tumblr_nmkaqfvmsw1qdxd3qo2_400

6. Girls supporting girls. Girls standing up for girls. Girls loving girls. Girls, girls, girls!!!
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7. As mentioned before, anxiety is also greatly discussed and represented.

“Most people think of anxiety as panic attacks. That’s not entirely accurate.
I haven’t had a panic attack in years. I started to recognize the signs and learned what I needed to do to stop it spiraling. I learned how to internalize it to avoid public embarrassment. Anxiety isn’t an attack that explodes out of me; it’s not a volcano that lies dormant until it’s triggered by an earth-shattering event. It’s a constant companion. Like a blow fly that gets into the house in the middle of summer, flying around and around. You can hear it buzzing, but you can’t see it, can’t capture it, can’t let it out.”

8. Sexism in the acting world is addressed, which, YES PLEASE:

“This is the third interviewer in a row who’s asked Reese an in-depth question about his job as an actor, and then asked me about my workout and diet regimen. I want to tell this guy to ask me something else, but I don’t want to look like a bitch or get in trouble with the studio, so I grin and bear it yet again.”

9. I loved when Taylor talked about her love for her literary hero, Queen Firestone. And the dedication it took to perfect her cosplay for SupaCon.

“I thought about buying one, but the ones I found online were too small to fit me comfortably, and the crown on the back wasn’t right, so I decided to make my own. I became so engrossed in it that some nights I sewed until sunrise without realizing, even forgetting to eat. Luckily my mum and sister were there to pull me out of my trance or I would have starved.”

Also, same about being so engrossed with things (reading) that you barely notice time flying by.

10. The discussions of fandoms and how heavy & intense it can get really reminded me of how similarly Radio Silence tackled these issues.

11. On a completely opposite note, this book made me laugh giddily multiple times throughout. The one scene I remember being most starry-eyed about was when Charlie and Alyssa where shooting their first collab. It was so damn fun to read; it was like getting to watch behind-the-scenes footage.

“I was thinking we could do a Q and A tag? Where we have about ten questions and we take turns answering them?”
Alyssa sits on the couch and crosses her legs. “Awesome.”
“Those videos are always pretty popular, plus they’re a lot of fun.”
Plus, it’s a great way for me to get to know Alyssa better, without it being too obvious that I’m interested in her.”

This part was all awkward and cute and achingly real. And it was just the perfect blend of romantic and fun… I was rooting for them with all my heart.

12. This was truly one of the funnest books I’ve read so far. From running through zombie mazes to filming collabs and participating in SupaFan contests…  it was hard not to fall in love with my Queens of Geek.
And with all the fun and games, this read still took the time to address vitally important topics such as body-positivity, friendship, love, change, shaming others, coming-of-age, accepting yourself… And it got to a point where I was dreading for the book to end. (Update: I loved the ending, even if it felt a bit rushed at certain points.)


All in all: though it took me a couple of chapters to really get into the story – because of how meta it felt – I eventually came to embrace the vibrant SupaCon energy and everything that tagged along with it. Queens of Geek left left me on such a high that the only thing that could bring me down was watching the recently released episode of Grey’s Anatomy. And if one things remains for sure, it’s that I’ll be on the lookout for any future works by the author.

ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Expected publication: March  14th, 2017

5/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Queens of Geek, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu

In the near future water falls from the sky whenever someone lies (either a mist or a torrential flood depending on the intensity of the lie). This makes life difficult for Matt as he maneuvers the marriage question with his lover and how best to “come out” to his traditional Chinese parents.

“Coming out would have hurt less a decade ago and it’ll hurt less now than a decade from now. Unless I just keep quiet and wait for my entire family to die off. Now there’s a cheery thought.”

I’ve been on the search for a captivating magical realism story and this one fit like a glove. The premise of That Falls on You from Nowhere remains to be completely fascinating to me: tell a lie and rain shall fall from the sky. I’m still amazed with the author for coming up with it.

On that note, I’ve gathered a list of things that left me with a content heart:

  • To-the-point writing style.
  • It was a lovely and quick distraction from daily life.
  • Superb characterization in only twenty or so pages.
  • I unexpectedly started loving Matt’s mother after this passage:

“Mom asks me if we’ve eaten. According to the textbooks, it’s a polite greeting, but she always means it literally. If I tell her I’m not hungry, she’ll say, “不餓還需要吃啊.” (Even if you’re not hungry, you still need to eat.) That must be true since that never causes the water to fall.”

  • I LIVED for those moments when it would say if water had fallen or not.
  • Then this one scene with Matt and his older sister, Michele, kind of reminded me of my favorite dynamic between Jessica Huang and her sister, Connie, in the show Fresh Off the Boat:

“You understand what I’m saying. I shouldn’t have to spell it out. You don’t trust your own sister?”
When I was eight, she convinced me that she was psychic, then foretold exactly how horrible my life would be if I didn’t do exactly as she said. It’s embarrassing how many years she got away with it. If the water had been falling back then, she’d have flooded the house.”

  • And one last thing: Matt’s partner, Gus, is an amazingly supportive love interest with such a generous soul. Which is why this next scene utterly warmed my heart:

“Matt, you’re leaving out of spite.” The doorjamb neatly frames Gus. “Okay, your sister had a bad reaction, but poe poe and gohng gohng don’t seem to be taking it badly.”
I blink and shake my head. It takes me a few seconds to realize that he’s talking about my parents.
“Did you just call my parents 婆婆 and 公公?”
“Yeah, poe poe and gohng gohng.” He looks confused. “I tried to call them Mr. and Mrs. Ho this afternoon, but they both corrected me before I got past hello. Am I pronouncing it wrong?”
“We can work on that, but that’s not my point.” I shut his suitcase. “‘婆婆’ means husband’s mother and ‘公公’ means husband’s father.”


Overall, I highly recommend you give this short story a go. Not only does it have a stunning cover, but the inside is just as phenomenal, if not more so.

4/5 stars 

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying That Falls on You from Nowhere, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!