We Are Okay

Book review by
Lucinda Dyer, Common Sense Media
We Are Okay Book Poster Image
Memorable story of friendship, loss, and family secrets.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Marin is passionate about literature, and readers will be introduced to her favorite books (Turn of the Screw, Jane Eyre, and One Hundred Years of Solitude) and authors (Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath).

Positive Messages

True friends never give up on you.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mabel is steadfast in her determination to stand by Marin, no matter how hard she tries to push her away. 


Mabel and Marin have a brief sexual relationship that's not explicitly described.


Some strong language, including "f--k" and "Jesus Christ."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

High school students drink at a party, Marin's grandfather is a heavy smoker, and Marin and Mabel steal and drink her grandfather's whiskey. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Nina LaCour's We Are Okay won the 2018 Michael L. Printz Award is the story of a college freshman named Marin who has left behind everything and everyone from her old life after the sudden death of her grandfather. Her best friend, Mabel, is determined to reconnect with her and arrives for a visit as Marin is spending the winter break alone in her dorm. The reason for Marin's sudden departure from her home in San Francisco is slowly revealed in flashbacks. While modest in length, the novel sensitively addresses big issues such as loneliness, lost love, grief, and family secrets. LaCour is a noted LGBTQ novelist, and the characters of Marin and Mabel have a past sexual relationship that is discreetly described. Her novel Hold Still was named a Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association in 2010.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 9-year-old Written byJackandeoin October 30, 2019

Loved it!

Beautiful novel, 'We are okay' is a book I've read many times! I can never get bored of it, nor do I ever stop crying. Yes, there are various use... Continue reading
Adult Written byAbigail W. August 11, 2017

18 year old

I thought the writing was spectacular and I finished the book within a few hours. However, there was more language than what was described in the review. The F... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byBookWorm39517 December 16, 2020

This book is amazing!!!

I read this book three times, and every single time, I loved it!!! There is a little LGBT stuff, about two girls "Practicing kissing", but really not... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bySofabanana June 30, 2020

Very Good

I really enjoyed this book and thought that it was very heartwarming. I loved the characters and I loved how the whole story unfolded. It kept me hooked the who... Continue reading

What's the story?

As WE ARE OKAY begins, Marin is a freshman in college, about to spend the winter holidays as the lone resident of her dorm. The only break in the solitude will be a three-day visit from her best friend, Mabel. She has conflicting emotions about the visit, as Marin has cut herself off from everyone she knew and loved since leaving for college in New York. As the novel moves back and forth between Mabel's visit and Marin's old life in San Francisco, she confronts heartrending truths about herself and the people she left behind. She'd had a loving home with a grandfather who raised her since her mother's death and a best friend whose parents became a second family to her. But her grandfather's sudden death only weeks before she began college threw her life into turmoil as she uncovered a startling family secret.

Is it any good?

An exquisitely crafted gem of a novel, this is a grab-your-heart story of loneliness, grief, the power of friendship, and a secret sure to take readers by surprise. While the characters of Marin and Mabel are college age, they have storylines with which many teens can relate: being raised by a single parent, getting over a broken heart, finding your way in a new place or school, helping a friend overwhelmed by sadness. Simply and quietly told, it's certain to bring more than a few tears to readers' eyes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the secrets characters keep in We Are Okay. How difficult would it be for someone in your family to keep a life-altering secret?

  • If friends communicate primarily by texting and social media, do you think it would be easier or harder to support a friend going through a tough time?

  • Why do you think some people want to be alone in their grief while others want to be surrounded by family and friends?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age and grief stories

Themes & Topics

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