Cover Image: Watch Over Me

Watch Over Me

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Member Reviews

4/5

thank you to penguin teen and netgallery for the arc! :) 

firstly i want to say i think it’s best to go into this book blindly. figure out the plot and unravel the secrets as you go on. trust me on this one :)

oh wow. wow. this was phenomenal. it was so calm, peaceful, and overall lovely. but at the same time it was eerie. creepy. it warmed my heart while still making me ache in pain.

the ending will leave you feeling empty but so fulfilled at the same time. this isn’t a book you can put down and forget about. i have no doubt this one will haunt me for a long time.

it reminded me a lot of sadie by courtney summers. if you liked that book, you will love this one.
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I couldn’t seem to put down this haunting and emotional book. The story is loneliness, beauty, doubt, belonging, grief, love... and so much more.
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“When you get scared in your chest and your stomach, you could try to invite what scares you in. Pay attention to it. Let it play back in your memory. I’m only understanding it myself, but I think we have to face the things that scare us in order to move on from them. It might be the only way to stop being afraid.”

Watch Over Me is LaCour’s latest novel and she has done it again. Nina LaCour is one of those authors whose gorgeous writing style you could pinpoint with just one line and her signature melancholic tone is there from the very beginning. LaCour is a master when portraying that sense of longing and self-doubt lonely people feel when trying to connect with others.

The author also develops her beautiful prose and imagery with the same care she did in her previous works. Evocative and delicate, her words are a force of nature, and they are able to imbue the pages of her novel with a myriad of emotions. Her every word is full of life; a feeling of soft, distant sadness that drenches your soul for days even after finishing her novels. Surprisingly, that is not a negative thing because it transforms into a gentle feeling of yearning that becomes a bittersweet ache.

In Watch Over Me, Nina LaCour places her main character, Mila, in an isolated, stranded setting: a farm next to the sea for foster children, where she is to work as a teacher. However, unlike her previous novel, the protagonist is not completely by herself this time and instead, she is surrounded by a loving family of foster children…and a group of ghosts. As a result, Mila does not only have to fight against loneliness, but against the much more difficult situation of feeling alone while surrounded by people. And not just any people, but an incredibly tight-knitted group of individuals whose personalities shine through even if they have barely any presence in the narration. This is especially remarkable in the cases of Lee and Lizz, who become quite an intriguing pair, but also help Mila immensely through her healing journey.

In line with the rural, idyllic setting of the novel, the story moves along with a languid, yet steady and gripping pace, that goes back and forth between Mila’s present and glimpses of her past. Even if a bit confusing at first, the pieces of the puzzle that make Mila’s mind up fall into place beautifully and just at the right times. Through these movements in time, the reader gets to understand why Mila is unable to feel loved and cared about by her newfound family and why she doesn’t trust herself most of the time. Furthermore, LaCour makes use of weather and natural elements—mainly fire for her past and water for her present time. This is a stunning use of imagery to make a clear distinction between the two timelines and symbolise how polarising the two situations are, even if they might appear to the protagonist as the same at first glance.

Combined with these jumps in time, LaCour makes a magnificent use of a somewhat unreliable narrator. Reminiscent of the classic novel, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, the reader cannot be sure whether the ghosts and the tokens of her past Mila finds at the farm are real, fabricated by her own mind, or manipulated by the people around her. Nonetheless, no matter what the truth is, LaCour’s main goal with the use of ghosts is to establish a representation of how our past selves influence our present and the haunting of past trauma. And that is, undoubtedly, a brilliant parallelism, for an apparent ghost story becomes so much more. Yes, the narration is still spooky and haunting at times, but it also becomes a tale of self-exploration and growth where the real monsters to overcome are trauma, insecurities and fear. Mila’s journey towards becoming a new person—free from her past, but also being able to maintain her best memories—is one that many readers will be able to relate to.

Overall, Watch Over Me is a moving tale of chosen family, loneliness, self-discovery, healing from past trauma, and learning to accept love. Many of these topics are no stranger to Nina LaCour’s readership, but she is always able to make them feel brand new. Comforting, relatable, and delicately frozen in time, LaCour’s prose is a true pleasure to read.
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This was definitely a quick, intriguing, and emotional story! I couldn't help but feel so sympathetic toward Mila, as it's clear from the start that she's had a very rough go of things. The farm itself, where Mila goes to work after aging out of the foster system, is incredibly atmospheric. The author did a great job making the reader feel like there is something... "other" about this place. 

I also really loved the farm family's acceptance of Mila, even when Mila wasn't sure of herself. My only real qualm about the book is that while I felt for Mila, I never really got a sense of who she was outside of the things that happened to her. But overall, it was a great story, very compulsively readable, and I am glad I had the chance to read it!
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This was a haunting book, but I appreciated how LaCour took her time with working through the acceptance part that comes with grief. I really like the supernatural aspect because it helped digest the storyline a little easier. I would highly recommend this to my students because of the character descriptions and how LaCour teaches that processing through grief is hard, but it is okay to work through.
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Prior to reading this, I had no experience with Nina Lacour’s books/writing and was pleasantly surprised to find how invested I was from the very first page. Hauntingly beautiful and powerful, Watch Over Me tells the struggle of grief and loneliness and the ability to overcome them through the metaphorical (but in this case real) sense of overcoming the ghosts of our pasts. 

Poignant and raw, Watch Over Me is both moving and inspiring and one that will leave you with the bitter taste of acceptance but also hope. Hope to remember and forgive, accept and move past the pains of our past. It was incredibly atmospheric and one I absolutely enjoyed.
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I read this book almost all in one sitting and all in one day. the story was super easy to read, but there were times that i was confused as to where i was going or what the timeline was. nina lacour’s writing is so detailed that i definitely empathized with the main character and her past! i gave it 3 stars because i thought it could have expanded more on the ending to see what happens a little after that ending scene. i also thought the story was a little ~too~ fast paced and wanted to know more about what is going on in the specific times because i got a little confused in some scenes. all in all, i thought this book was good and would recommend to anyone who wants a quick and different read!!
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Why I requested this: Can I say ghosts and Nina LaCour are honestly all I need as selling points at this point?

Pros:
The atmosphere! Can you say haunting? It really helps bring Mila’s feelings of being alone to light.
Loneliness. This is a weird thing to put as a pro, but it feels like a part of the story and it says it right in the plot, but Nina LaCour nails the feeling of loneliness in this one.
The characters! Okay, if I’m being fair, with Nina LaCour this has always been a strong suit in my opinion.

Cons:
The ending feels a bit abrupt. I felt that it was a bit ambiguous, which in some stories I do like; however, I was hoping for more here.

Overall: Despite the abrupt ending, Nina LaCour brings it in yet another unique story.
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Had we been telling the truth, he would have said, The place where I’m sending you - it looks beautiful, but it’s haunted. It will bring everything back. All that you tried to bury.”

I read this book over the last two days and loved it! It’s written very beautifully, it’s almost like poetry. She has a way of writing that makes you feel the character’s loneliness. 

It was a very quiet book - it’s not a book that is super action packed but a very atmospheric book that unravels the mystery of Mila and her new life with her adoptive family on their farm. And the ghosts that surround them. 

“Everyone who joins our family has suffered. Suffered terribly. We try to choose wisely, but some won’t ever find peace here.” 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thank you @penguinteen for sending me a copy!
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I first heard about Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour during Penguin Teen Canada’s fall preview event this past summer. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Nina LaCour’s books from friends, but I’ve never actually read one . . . until now. The way this book was described—a beautiful story full of ghosts and grief—piqued my interested a lot, and I knew I needed to read it.


Watch Over Me follows the story of Mila, who grew up in foster care and recently turned 18. She’s going to live on an isolated farm and work as an intern for a family that has taken in over 40 foster children over the years, and is very excited to finally be joining a family. She’ll have her own cabin, teach young children, and be able to earn a living for herself.

If you think this all sounds too good to be true, you’re right, but probably not in the way you’re initially thinking. Mila quickly learns that the farm is haunted. Not everyone can see the ghosts, but they’re there, and they end up playing a rather important role in this story.

The writing in this book was beautiful and haunting. I could picture the scenery so perfectly, from the farmhouse to the beach, and even the flower stand at the local farmer’s market. But what stood out for me the most was the raw emotion written all over the pages. I could feel how lonely and scared Mila was, and I’ve never wanted to hug a fictional character so badly.

What made the story even more powerful, though, was the way it wove in feelings of grief, isolation, and trauma as well. The ghosts in Watch Over Me aren’t just spectral bodies walking about the farm. I mean, they are, but they also represent the hardships that Mila and other characters have endured, and help them come to terms with their past in order to move forward.

There are a lot of layers to this story, which to me is the mark of a good book. I know many different people will have their own unique takeaways from this story, and it will resonate with each reader differently.

If you’re looking for a YA contemporary that will pull on your heart strings, check this one out. If you’re a mood reader, it’d also be a good one to curl up with on a rainy day.

Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for a digital copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour Moore comes out on September 15, 2020, and can be purchased wherever books are sold.
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What a hauntingly beautiful and melancholic novel. There’s nothing like being wallowed by the pure emotions of a book. LaCour’s breathtaking writing allows the reader to experience the raw sadness, loneliness, and love that makes up Watch Over Me. Mila must face the past that haunts her and it does not come easy. I was swiftly transported into her story, the eerie amosphere of the novel coming to life with every turn of the page. I felt a every word in my chest, and it was magical. Overall, a truly emotive and wonderful piece.
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The book follows Mila, who just graduated from high school and is going to work at a farm for young foster kids to be taken care of. Mila has just aged out of the foster care system, so I thought it was interesting that she wants to go work for a couple who houses foster care kids and takes care of them. Mila is tasked with teaching some of the younger children, and I thought it interesting and kinda weird how an eighteen year old all of a sudden becomes a teacher? Is this possible? Does this happen? Maybe my bias as a teacher is clouding this a bit, but just seemed odd that her role is a teacher.
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However, I really liked the themes of love and acceptance in the book. Mila is dealing with a lot from her past trauma's and this farm teaches her how to deal with her trauma and gives her the opportunity to find a place that she feels like she belongs. This love and acceptance, and the idea of building up your own family, was what really kept me reading!
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After the success of her novel We Are Okay, Nina LaCour returns to the YA world with her newest title, Watch Over Me. Set to be released September 15th, this haunting modern ghost story becomes an emotional and poignant read.
This novel is beautifully written and so deeply evoking of what it means to deal with the things that haunt you. The ghosts in the book seem to represent the physical embodiments of Mila’s past and bit by bit the truth of what happened to Mila and why she is at the farm come to light. This book takes the notion of a ghost story and then puts on its head. Instead of ghosts needing something from humans, the humans need something from the ghosts in this book. It’s not a horror story; just a supernatural one with mentions of PTSD and dealing with the foster care system.
The way LaCour parallels past and present is fantastical and beautiful and showcases how it might be to feel truly alone in this world. The way Mila builds new relationships with the people on the farm shows how even the loneliest of people with the darkest of pasts can still find comfort in others. She is resilient in her wanting to help others and be a part of something, but Mila soon learns that she must first learn to help herself.
One could easily finish this book in one sitting (as I did!) and feel a deep sense of peace after concluding the book. Metaphoric and ethereal, Watch Over Me is a truly remarkable book that is both unique and easy to fall in love with.

*I received an ARC from Penguin Teen in exchange for my honest opinion.
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*ARC provided by publisher through NetGalley*

As Mila aged out of the foster care program, she jumped at the opportunity to go to a place known as The Farm. Known for taking in foster kids, Mila’s duties would include teaching the younger kids, helping with harvest and market. What Mila didn’t know was the farm was haunted. What were these spirits that danced in the fields at night? As her memories started pouring forth. Had she brought her own ghosts with her?
This book is about finding yourself when it is buried deep in trauma. Nina LaCour hasn’t disappointed in this new release.
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Unfortunately this book did not do it for me. The premise of this book sounded really good. Ghosts.... Haunted cabins... Some trauma that need to be resolved? All buzzwords for me to pick up a book but this one for me did not execute as well. The writing style fell flat and the dialogue was just awkward and cringe to me. I didn't get any emotional feelings from this book and I'm disappointed that this didn't read like I wanted.
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This book was amazing! The way it discussed trauma was awesome. I will say, I found the dynamic between Billy, Liz, and Mila a bit confusing.
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First of all, I want to say that I loved the writing style and the atmosphere in this book. Nina definitely knows how to write and how to hold people's interest. Also, at least one of the difficulties I had may be because I was reading a proof version; a simple spacing change was all I needed and that could very easily have happened in the finished version.

This is shorter than I was expecting. Nina packs a lot into this short space, though, bringing us up to date on Mila's background through flashbacks and memories, and following her through an undisclosed amount of time on the farm. I found some of the flashbacks very abrupt...that's the spacing issue...and I wasn't sure how much time passed on the farm, although maybe I just missed something there.

The real problem is that, even after finishing reading it, I'm not really sure what was happening. Were the ghosts really ghosts? How could people interact with them? Why did they only appear there on that farm and not anywhere else where people are traumatised? Even the very ending, when Mila has accepted her past; it seemed like she was conflating their treatment of her with the way her stepfather acted and deciding to leave, but then I think she decided to stay because as long as she was choosing it herself it was fine? I'm really not sure what was going on there.

This is a beautiful, atmospheric read with great characters and a wonderful idea, and I highly recommend it. I'm just not sure what it's about!
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This book was like a melody that was haunting addicting and beautiful. I often found myself going through the chapters without realizing they passed. Throughout the book, I could truly see the growth of the main character Nina and how every interaction after she left her former life lead to who she was at the end. My favorite parts of this story were the small scenes with such intricate detail, I could picture everything happening, sights smells sounds, etc.  I loved the relationships between the characters and how they all had a part in each other's lives. It is a book that seems simple on the outside, but their such complexity, loneliness, pain, longing, and happiness underneath'. Haunting in almost a comforting way.
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I honestly cannot remember the last time I have a read a book in one sitting, but as soon as I started this book, I could not put it down. As I am writing this, I still have tears glimmering in my eyes from that beautiful ending. This book follows Mila as she goes to her newest, and potentially last foster home. When she arrives she not only encounters a loving family, but also some hauntings from her past that she can not forget no matter how hard she tries. This book is now one of my new favorites as it beautifully incorporates a haunting story and gorgeous writing. I can only describe this book as a masterpiece. Normally this type of my book is not my cup of tea, but the themes of isolation, love, and finding a place to call home felt so familiar and so real that I easily connected with this story. I think that everyone can find a way to relate to this story because everyone has experience heartbreak and loss, and while it hurts to face it, as Mila shows us, that is the only way to truly move on and find happiness.
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I truly wanted to enjoy this book. I think I would've enjoyed it more if it wasn't so heavy. It was not what I was expecting, but I'm sure others will enjoy.
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