Cover Image: Watch Over Me

Watch Over Me

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Member Reviews

Beautifully written evocative novel. Nina Lacour has an incredible way with words and I really felt this book- the solitude, the sadness. This is a quiet book in the way that raw emotions can be quiet. In the way of silent tears late at night. I know I'll be thinking about this one for a long time to come.
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A beautiful reworking of the ghost tale that focuses a bit too much on the quieter moments on the narrative.
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This book was incredibly deep and full of heart. The story of trauma healing and forgiveness towards self was so incredibly well woven into this slightly unnerving setting of a remote farm full of ghosts. My wariness towards the general ~thriller~ vibes of this book kept me on my toes but every turn my fear was thwarted by another warm moment between Lee and Mila. The themes of forgiveness and trauma healing were so nicely balanced. Watching Mila be kind to everyone except herself and then eventually learning to direct that love inwards was so cathartic for me as a reader. Nina LaCour continues to deliver deep cutting stories on trauma, loss, and healing, and this book just surpassed all my already high expectations of her work!
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I am always amazed at just how beautiful Nina LaCour’s writing is. I don’t think I can put into words how well she describes everything and makes you feel like you are there and can see and feel everything. This book is haunting and beautiful and I know it is going to stay stuck in my mind for a very long time. I enjoyed the slow unraveling of the ghost story and Mila’s journey..
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I adore Nina LaCour's beautiful, haunted writing -- and especially after watching the Watch Over Me virtual launch event with her and Brandy Colbert, I'm also a huge fan of the author herself! So I absolutely jumped at the chance to read her newest book early.

This book still had the beautiful lyricism, pain, grief, complexity, and character growth that I loved from Everything Leads to You and We Are Okay, but this time it also has GHOSTS! I absolutely love the way Nina incorporated them into this story. This setting was wonderfully atmospheric and I was shocked to hear (at the launch event) that she didn't grow up in that setting. Clearly, her research trips paid off!

As with her other books, this story is more character-driven than plot driven, with suspense elements that make it easy to binge the book in one sitting (which I absolutely did). I loved this book. Thank you to Penguin Teen via Netgalley for a free advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own.
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Quick read that had me engrossed until the very end. There were some flaws (lack of character development and a lot of it seemed a bit rushed to me) but that’s what sometimes happens in a shorter book geared toward YA, so I didn’t mind. In fact, I kind of embraced it. Lacour writes beautiful language, descriptive scenery that I could 100% put myself into and isn’t afraid to take on tough topics-which I appreciate. Watch Over Me took me on a journey when reading during Covid has sometimes been tough for me! Have you read this one? What did you think? PS the cover 😍
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Delicate trauma

From what I understand, Nina Lacour writes a lot about girls facing difficult things in life, lots of self-reflection and such. In that way, I believe you will find the same thing in this book: Mila, our main character, has been placed in the foster system as a teen, and as she starts now her first job as an adult, in an isolated farm, we will understand what brought her there. Nina Lacour does this story telling in a very unique way, alternating present Mila, who is teaching a young kid, trying to help him, while also finding her place at the farm, and past Mila, a young girl who had to go through a terrible experience and survived…. but at what cost?
It was a very immersive and raw writing, we could feel all of Mila’s emotions, almost see them, as they overpowered her sometimes. Can she move on from her past? Will she understand her insecurities and her want to belong? And when the time comes, will she accept her past, and be ready to do what it takes to embrace her future?

Animated gif about tumblr in Nemo by Cnfank on We Heart It
Why are you haunted?

What really put this book apart for me, was the setting. First, this isolated farm in the North of California: we have the ocean, we have vegetables and flowers growing on the ground, we have homemade cooking (pleeeasse I want this pumpkin soup and homemade butter!!), and that’s the kind of setting I always LOVE. Here, it was no exception. I don’t know, I’ll probably die without the internet, but I love the idea of such a simple and grounded life. We also meet several members of the adopted family, though not all of them (there are like 6 or 7 foster kids, two teachers and the adoptive parents), and it helps us really feel the atmosphere Mila is diving in.
But mostly, what I loved where the ghosts. They are there in such a strange way…. this book is definitely in our world, like real world. But ghosts exist, or at least can be seen by some people. Can follow them even. Like this strange one following Mila and dancing around. Ghosts of kids too, wandering the lands. And they are accepted for real by everyone on the farm, their existence is not questioned, they are just there. As real as you and me. That was really well done, especially as you learn more and more about who they are and why they are here, and I loved the concept behind these ghosts as a whole. Definitely my fav part of the book!

In a few words

A reflexive, melancholic story, about a young girl who lost herself years ago….and who will have to face the ghosts of the past and present to rediscover who she is. And she has homemade butter! Definitely the perfect read on a rainy Fall afternoon 😉
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Nina LaCour’s writing is hauntingly beautiful in this book. It’s a fairly short, sometimes very odd tale about loneliness and wanting to belong. This will not be everyone’s cup of tea but I really loved it.
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No one does melancholic vibes quite like Nina LaCour. I saw someone describe Nina LaCour’s books as “sad girls who love the girls” and that is right near perfect. The atmosphere in this little ghost story of a book is off the charts. I could picture the farm, the ocean, and Mila’s cabin with such clarity. And for the kind of story this book is, the atmosphere to spare is appreciated.

Still, I struggle with what it was about this book that didn’t fully connect with me. It may have been the length, as I wish some aspects had been given a little more room to breath, especially at the end. I did appreciate that the story wasn’t overly drawn out in some areas, but in others it felt like a bit more time could have been used. If this all sounds quite vague, it’s because to talk about one of my major complaints would constitute a spoiler. However, I will say that what did happen plot wise resonated well the themes of the story.

I felt also that beyond Mila and Lee, the secondary characters weren’t as well-defined. That is in part a function of being a secondary character, but I do think with the found family themes at the core of this it would have been more impactful if I really invested in the inhabitants of the farm as a whole and not just Mila and Lee.

But these are just attempts to describe why I’m not jumping up and down about this story. It may be a case of wrong book, wrong time. Because there is a lot to love here. Beyond the atmosphere, Mila and Lee are characters that will stay with me for quite some time and I adored their dynamic. I love that this book focused on self-care and self-healing outside of the context of a romantic relationship. It does this while still remaining casually queer in a way that more books need to follow. If you’re ready for a quiet, contemplative read about healing from abuse and toxic family dynamics, with a sprinkle of ghost story spookiness this is for you.
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Nobody destroys my feels quite like Ms. LaCour. Another book that shatter me and hit me right in my emotions. LaCour's latest novel was full of hard hitting emotions, tough topics, grief, learning how to love and what it means to be loved. This was not an easy read but my goodness it was powerful and gave me a lot to think about. Some of the topics covered (certainly not all): foster care, abuse, child abandonment, and trauma, 

Mila was an outstanding protagonist. She was very well developed and had a wonderful character arc. I wanted nothing more than to reach into the story and give her a hug. This poor girl went through more than any one person should ever have to endure. The setting was lush and hauntingly beautiful. I felt like I was completely immersed in all parts of this book. The eerie flashbacks were very well done and added an extra layer to the story, as well as the ghostly hauntings.  It felt masterfully done.

I devoured this book in one day, I could not get enough of it. I believe this is already on your TBR but add it if it isn't already.
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I simply LOVED this eerie, atmospheric novel - it is perfect for the fall season! I read this in under 24 hours and I’m so glad I did! Mila’s story was poignant and haunting. The cast of characters burrowed their way into my heart and made a home there. I have enjoyed Nina LaCour’s other novels but none have hit me so hard as this one. What a beautiful story of loss, hard choices, and healing!
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This is haunting story about loneliness, grief and despair. It is easy to lose yourself in this story because you want to figure out what is going on . Also  it' s eerie ,yet alluring setting draws you in 
 An atmospheric, magical ghost story . Although there are actual ghosts this is actually more about what really haunts us and the effects of trauma. Not for everyone but I imagine it will have appeal with people that have experienced depression, trama, and loss.
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Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour brings a lot to the table in terms of grief, trauma, and love. However, it didn’t really hook me. 

I felt as if Mila’s character was so hard to feel connected to. It always felt as if she were something on the outside. Now, this may have been the intention of LaCour, but I personally didn’t like that. However, Mila’s backstory slowly being revealed through the story is so heartbreaking. 

I adored the foster parents and the children in the story, finding myself to love them more than Mila.

This book is a perfect fall read as it deals with ghosts as well! 

Overall, this book brings so much to the table, but it was a miss for me.

Thank you to Penguin and Netgalley for providing me with an eArc in exchange for an honest review.
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I received an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Mila has grown used to being alone. She's been in foster care since she was 13. Yet now she's aged out, so when offered a job on an isolated farm in California teaching other kids like herself, she accepts. It isn't til she arrives that she learns about the ghosts. The place, it's a refuge, but it also brings back all the memories Mila, and the other residents are trying to forget. Will she be able to make it, and will she ever find a place where she feels she belongs? 

I have a friend who is a foster mom. The things she shares, the struggles these kids go to when they shouldn't have to, and love she has for them, it's inspiring. The older I get the more I feel called to foster someday. Reading Watch Over Me is heartbreaking. I wish no person had to go through what Mila has, yet so many have. 

However, the message at the core of this book is one that everyone can relate too. It's ultimately a book about accepting your past. I realized a long time ago, actually while writing my own book, that the only way to move on to the future is to come to terms with your past. Because whether constantly dwelling on it or pushing it in the back of your mind so you never think about it, it's still there, holding you back. The only way to move forward is to remember that who you were then helped to make who you are now, and what you did then doesn't have to define who you become. 

Watch Over Me is a beautifully written story that switches between the past and present. It's a quick, meaningful read, that will make you feel in the way all the best books do.
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First of all, thank you so much Penguinteen/NetGallery for providing me with this arc. I usually don't gravitate towards paranormal or even contemporary books, but 'Watch Over Me' by Nina LaCour surpassed all my hesitations and preexisting biases. 

Mila's story begins with her leaving her foster family and moving to a secluded farm in the Northern California coast where she will begin her new adulthood as a school tutor for the fostered children who live there. What she didn't expect, however, were the ghosts that roam the property, specifically the ghost who dances alone in the field and attracts her attention. As Mila starts to adjust to her new life, her traumatic past begins to come back in pieces to haunt her. 

FINAL THOUGHTS (still spoiler free)
I genuinely adored this book. It's less about actual ghosts and more about the memories and pain from the past that haunt one's present.. I loved everything, from how it was written, to the family Mila made, to the way LaCour was able to write Mila's growth and experiences with a realistic tone. The story is set on a farm, and I loved reading about the nature and the flowers and crops. The trips to the farmers' market and how wonderfully LaCour described them also really added a unique quality to the book I hadn't seen before. I also enjoyed the characters, but I didn't feel as strongly connected to them as much as I did to Mila. And finally, I was amazed at how LaCour wrote Mila's story in a series of flashbacks and connections to Mila's reality. The last few chapters were breathtaking, and I will admit I did share a tear for the guilt and pain Mila lived with. Mila is a strong young woman, a protector and a teacher, but also a character who is flawed, and who needed to be there for herself to move forward. 

I recommend this to any reader/person who is struggling with the secrets and pain of their past, and who might blame themselves for something they did and live with that guilt all the time. This book sends the clearest message that no one else can fix you but yourself, and I would recommend it to any reader who needs to hear and understand that.
TW: parental neglect, emotionally/mentally/psychologically abusive relationship 
Ages: 14/15+
"Follow my lead, oh, how I need someone to watch over me." -Etta James, 'Someone to Watch Over Me'
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Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour; Dutton Books for Young Readers, 272 pages ($17.99) Ages 14 to 18.

.Nina LaCour, the Michael Printz Award-winning author of "We Are Okay," offers a mesmerizing tale of a girl suffocating in loneliness and haunted by the ghosts of her past in this powerful, well-crafted novel.

Mila has finished high school and graduated out of foster care when she is offered a teaching job and a place to live in a remote farm on the North California coast run by an interracial couple who take in foster children.

Mila is haunted by trauma in her past she can't talk about, and is disturbed to find the farm is haunted by ghosts. She bonds with the little boy who is her only student, but he, too, is haunted by his past, with scars even Mila may be powerless to heal.

Mila is used to being alone, and accepting friendship and support from others isn't easy for her. There seem to be sinister aspects to her new home. Why did her predecessor leave? Why do the foster children "graduate" to gold jewelry? Is something threatening afoot, in what seems such a peaceful place? 

The shadows and questions give this story the feel of a thriller, as LaCour waits to reveal the betrayal, horrifying abuse and abandonment of Mila's past, terrible things which explain her reluctance to trust the people around her. The novel is richly atmospheric, evoking the isolation of the farm with its fields of flowers and vegetables, its rough cabins, the dangerous beauty of the pounding ocean waves.
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I’m convinced that Nina La Cour writes books with the sole intention of making me cry, because Watch Over Me is another one of her books that made me ugly sob.

La Cour’s latest novel follows Mila, a recent high school graduate who also just aged out of the foster care system. With nowhere to go, she agrees to live on a farm in a remote area of California which is run by a couple who have hosted many foster kids over the years. Mila soon finds refuge in working on the farm, but soon she learns that it’s haunted by ghosts who hold past traumas, which complicates things.

As Mila attempts to piece together the traumas that the young women and men that came before her attempted to escape on the farm, memories of her own traumas begin to resurface. With her memories about her neglectful mom and the death of her beloved grandparents, it’s so clear just how broken Mila is, and it’s heartbreaking. More beautiful still, though, is Mila’s resilience as she finds her place among the other young residents of the farm. I loved seeing her beginning to forge tentative friendships and take on the role of teacher and mentor for some of the younger children. Watch Over Me is a haunting read not in that it will keep you up at night (it won’t) but in that it will stay with you for a long time.
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*Thank you to Penguin Teen for the advanced copy* 

I’ve never read a Nina LaCour book before, but I was preparing it to be emotional based on friends reading her past books. I’ve got to say they are correct. It poignant and masterfully touches about human connections and the feeling of being lost in the world. 

Our main character Mila has had a troubled past. Her Grandparents dead and then soon after her mother leaves her. So we begin with Mila living with a young couple who are about to have a baby. To not be a burden, and the fact she’s now 18, she goes to live on a Farm that takes in troubled youths. She gets to live there and teach the younger children. There’s she meets 9 year old Lee, who struggles with his own demons. Mila has some ghosts of her own she deals with. 

This sort of in a way is a ghost story about past lives and the ones that haunt us as we try to leave them behind. Because in all honesty we never can. They are ingrained in us and there for a reason.
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This was a beautiful story about trauma and healing. Mila is aging out of the foster care system, and decides to take an opportunity to live and work on a remote farm on the northern California coast, with other foster children who have been offered refuge there. The farm is a place where Mila has to confront the things that have been haunting her, and learn how to move forward.
This story was atmospheric, and the presence of ghosts was just light handed enough to add to the setting and themes of the story, without becoming a "ghost story" plot. 
The plot shifts between Mila on the farm, and flashbacks of her growing up with her mother and an emotionally abusive stepfather. Ultimately, this is a story about being haunted by and recovering from the past. It's about accepting what you've been through and what you've done, and finding a place in the world for the you that is still here. 
The book is quite short, and maintains a nice balance between creating at atmosphere and getting straight to the point. I could see how a little more development of Mila's new family/friends could have made the ending more satisfying, but overall I enjoyed the story this book told on the pages it had.
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I really enjoyed this story. I wasn't expecting the spooky vibes and I loved that. Nina LaCour creates the perfect claustrophobic atmosphere for our main character to dive into her psyche and face her past. The reader is watching her battle her demons and it leaves you wondering if she is losing her mind if her foster family is up to something sinister, and what secrets are everyone hiding. This is a truly enjoyable story.
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