We Are Okay by Nina LaCour


We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Released February 14, 2017.

Marin left her entire old life behind, arriving at college in New York two weeks ahead of schedule and with almost nothing with her. She tried to leave that life behind and start anew, but now her best friend Mabel is coming to see her. The best friend that Marin hasn’t spoken to in months, the best friend she hasn’t texted or called. Left alone in the deserted dorm as winter break arrives, Marin can only wait for Mabel to arrive. When she does, they are awkward together and the story of their relationship slowly reveals itself. Along the way, Marin’s unique relationship with her grandfather also emerges. Now it is up to Marin to face everything she has run from for the first time.

I knew on the very first page that this was a book that would consume me. LaCour writes with a precision and yet a naturalness that disarms and embraces the reader. She is delicate at times, allowing the reader to explore and learn. At other points she is direct, pointing out pain, tenderness and loss with care. The tone is uniquely hers, a voice that is beautiful to read, filled with poignancy, hesitation and wonder all the while it fights depression and despair.

This is a novel of hope, a novel that shows how difficult it can be to face loss and betrayal. It is a book that speaks of the power of bridging those gaps in our lives, of finding a person we love once again and allowing them back into our lives. It’s a story of slowly opening that door, the door to humanity and joy that had seemed locked forever. It’s a story of transformation that is simple and yet profound.

One of the best young adult books on loss and grief that I have ever read, this one will find a place in your heart. Appropriate for ages 14-18.

Reviewed from ARC received from Dutton Books for Young Readers.


One Proud Penny by Randy Siegel


One Proud Penny by Randy Siegel, illustrated by Serge Bloch

Told in the voice of the penny itself, this picture book follows the life of a penny in public circulation. With a humorous tone, the book explains that pennies are often ignored or lost and then whisked back into use again. The metals that modern pennies are made of are compared with older pennies who would have been this penny’s parents and grandparents. Throughout the book, the journey of being spent and then being spent again and again is told. It’s enough to make all of us value the humble penny much more.

Siegel’s text is filled with humor and wonderful moments. Like the mourning of being sucked into vacuum cleaners multiple times or the pride of knowing that even though pennies are worth less than dollar bills, they are much stronger and last longer. There is a great flow to the book, moving from one place to the next in a series of hops and jumps that work to set a nice pace. The tone is one of information mixed with simple life lessons making this very readable.

Bloch’s illustrations are almost comic format but without the framing. He has dynamic loose line that creates characters who pass through the penny’s life quickly. Real pennies and other currency are used in the illustrations.

Funny and informative: that’s my 2 cents. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.