Cover Image: Yerba Buena

Yerba Buena

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Member Reviews

This book is so hard to summerize in a simple blurb.  It isn't a true romance.  The two main characters don't meet up until almost sixty percent of the way through the story.  Instead we get the story of Sara Foster, the daughter of an addict.  She runs away at the age of 16 after suffering a tragic loss.  She makes her way to LA and eventually becomes a celebrated bar tender.  Emilie Dubois is the other lead character.  She is in her seventh year and fifth major in college.  She loves learning but doesn't know what she wants to do with her life.  She is the good daughter compared to her vibrant addict sister.  Her parents expect to be the care taker and the one to put her plans on hold for others. 

The story is told in alternating chapters from each viewpoint.  Each character has her own timeline until they meet.   And the written words are beautiful and carefully chosen to create moods and visuals.  The author builds each chapter to a point where it frustrates you when she cuts to the other storyline.  The title itself has multiple meanings.  It is a herb in the coastal area where they live, a special ingredient for a complex cocktail created by Sara and the name of the restaurant where Sara and Emilie first meet.  

There are a lot of side characters and some that I wanted to know more about that seem to disappear from the narrative.  Also a lot of things are alluded to but not fully explained.  Emilie seems to have depression but never seeks help for it.  I'm not sure why Emilie's parents divorce etc.  There should be content warnings for: substance abuse, overdoes, death (friends and family), infidelity, underage sexual coercion.  Sex is behind closed doors, even with the main couple.  I truly was exhausted by the time I finished.  It left me hopeful but still unsure for their future.  

Again I want to emphasize this isn't a light romance.  But if you want compelling fiction with heartbreaking realistic characters this book is for you.  It is one that will stay with me for a long time.  This is the authors first adult book after previously publishing YA novels.  I will look for other books by her.  Thank you to NetGalley, Flatiron Books and the author for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I did not finish this book.  While I have enjoyed Nina LaCour's other works, this books started off brutally and continued that way with no trigger warnings or head's ups.  I think what threw me was that immediately bad things started happening to our main characters but I wasn't rooting for them in any way so the bad events felt brutal and unnecessary.
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I really enjoyed this story! Yerba Buena is my second LaCour novel, and flows so well from one to the other. LaCour is greta at capturing a vibe that is very melancholic and reflective while including the more hopeful aspects of life such as love and future career/schooling goals. 

Yerba Buena is a dual POV story between two women who come together in a romance. I really enjoyed reading about the backstories for both characters, though at times the narration bled together, leaving behind two characters with similar narrative voices, which was especially confusing when listening tot he audiobook which has the same narrator for both women. 

Narrative homogeneity aside, I really enjoyed this book. Reading about the two main characters backgrounds and how their lives led them to where they are today was... fun is not quite the answer as heavy topics are discussed, but I enjoyed myself throughout the book. LaCour has a fantastic writing style, and I love a good sapphic romance within literary fiction. Will definitely be recommending!
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4 stars 

I love Nina LaCour as a YA author, and I expect that many will come to this - her first adult novel - for the same reason. Pre-existing fans as well as those entirely new to LaCour will not be disappointed. 

LaCour's style is very much like the cover of this book: spare but beautiful. The two main characters here come from backgrounds and experiences that are challenging in entirely different ways. One of my favorite aspects of LaCour's writing is how she reveals grief, and that happens in a stunning manner throughout this piece. There is no shying away from grittiness: sexual exploitation, drug use/overdose, and child abuse, among other areas. However, the depictions feel raw rather than gratuitous, believable rather than sensationalized. What LaCour does best is establish meaningful relationships between WHOLE characters. This book is not about forgetting but about facing the past and the self with aggressive honesty. The more successful the characters are at doing this, the closer they get to each other. 

I flew through this novel and expect that most readers will. The characters are engaging, the themes meaningful, and the writing characteristically pure. Of course, I recommend this (with a special nod to the audiobook where the narrator is particularly effective).
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Update 01/12:
Yerba Buena ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
One of the characters describes yerba buena as being “Subtle and sweet and just the faintest bit bitter” this is exactly how I feel about this book. It is a story full of sadness written in a way that’s poetic and beautiful. The character development was exceptional, with characters that are flawed but lovable with the experiences, thoughts and feelings of both main characters connecting seamlessly. 
#yerbabuena #ninalacour
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Sara Foster’s childhood had been less than ideal. Her mother absent, her dad dealing drugs, it is up to sixteen year old Sara to care for her little brother. Then when tragedy strikes, Sara just can’t face it anymore and runs away. Years later, Sara becomes a well-known and sought after bartender. As she is filling in as bartender at one of the swankiest restaurants in LA, in walks Emilie Dubois. Emilie is floundering in her own life. She knows what she wants but just can’t seem to figure out how to get there. The connection between Emilie and Sara was intense and immediate but trying to navigate both their pasts and the present creates roadblocks to their relationship. Their journey is a lovely tale of redemption, rebirth and growth. 
In her debut adult novel, young adult author Nina LaCour does a magnificent job of spinning the stories of these two young women and their attempt to find not only each other but also themselves. I loved this book and would highly recommend it to both adults and older teens.
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I'm a big Nina LaCour fan. I've read most of her YA novels and always really enjoy them. I think she has one of the most unique voices when it comes to writing loneliness, melancholy, loss, and ultimately healing. I also seem to have the habit of getting hooked into the feelings of her books reading until well into the night to finish them, because you can't be left hanging. So with all of this I was looking forward to her first adult novel Yerba Buena

Yerba Buena is a novel that spans years following the characters Sara Foster and Emilie DuBois. Both of these women have incredibly troubled and traumatizing childhoods though in vastly different ways, and in that have emotionally stunted adulthoods. But when they come together, it starts a long process to finding their respective places in the world. Though, not how we might think.

I don't love the blurb of this book. I don't even love my description of it but I don't really know how else to describe this book without spoiling major parts. And while the blurb isn't inaccurate- it is to a point. But to me the blurb reads like a romance novel, and this book is not a romance novel- not in a traditional sense at any rate. This book is more a character exploration of Sara and Emilie while having romance in it. Don't get me wrong, this is a fantastic book and I loved it. But just so other readers know, it's not a romance novel and the blurb can suck you in. 

As you might expect from a LaCour book, it's packed with pathos everywhere. As I mentioned earlier she is so great at writing loneliness and loss and the way it deeply affects people, and this book is wonderful in that regard. As someone who has read most of her other work I do see similarities to books like Are We Okay and Watch Over Me, but it didn't feel rehashed at all. 

The prose in this book is gorgeous too. LaCour's ability to write heartbreaking scenes with such beauty is a gift. I love reading her words. And the way this book is constructed and paced is incredibly effective. 

I loved Yerba Buena. I did kinda go into it with the idea it would be more of a romance novel, but while it wasn't- it was still a fantastic and profound read I'm sure will stick with me for a while. First 5/5 in 2021
Thank you to Flatiron and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. 
CWs: Off page sexual assault of a minor, Off page references to drug use, drug overdose
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This is a lovely, ethereal, queer version of Sweetbitter. It’s slow and a bit meandering, a lot like a drive along the beach or through an old LA neighborhood.

It’s a beautiful book.
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Nina LaCour is one of those authors whose books I can always depend on to be brilliant. She has a formula, for sure: lush, melancholic writing; sad, queer girls; slow-paced, character-driven text. But despite following a similar path in each novel, somehow every time she makes it feel new and fresh. She has a beautiful way of weaving a tale, evoking an image, and diving into the rich darkness of young women, in particular, While YERBA BUENA didn't dethrone EVERYTHING LEADS TO YOU and WE ARE OKAY as my top favorites of hers, I loved spending time in this world and I really hope LaCour will keep writing more adult novels. Highly recommend for fans, new and old.
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I really like this author's YA offerings, but this first foray into adult novels is next level. There is something about the characters.... They are very real and complicated and flawed. I found it absolutely impossible to set this one down. I highly recommend it.
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Nina LaCour has written one of my favorite books of all time “We Are Okay”, so of course when “Yerba Buena” was announced, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I devoured this book in one sitting. This beautiful novel talks about love and trauma, and LaCour does this through two of the most unique characters ever, Sara and Emilie. These two women are so different yet so similar in so many ways. 

In “Yerba Buena”, Nina LaCour uses her beautiful prose to describe scarring events and how to deal with them. She uses her words to portray two powerful women and their struggles, their love, and their journey.
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This book is:
A hot cup of mint tea with just a drop of honey.
Sun on your face through a window.
Eating on the patio on the first warm day of spring when the breeze still carries a chill.
The soreness and satisfaction of ripping down all of the wallpaper.
A cocktail that’s just medicinal or bitter enough you feel compelled to take another sip.

My only sadness is that I’ll never be able to read Yerba Buena for the first time again.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it here: no one writes grief better than Nina LaCour. 

This book is beautiful, hopeful, and heartfelt. With soaring but meticulous prose, LaCour depicts broken people learning how to love themselves and each other through loss, creation, and forgiveness.

A bildungsroman in parallel, Yerba Buena tells the story of two women; one who fears she’s easy to leave, and another who fears she’s easy to let go. 

After a tragic loss, Sara Foster leaves her home in the Russian River valley. She makes a fresh start in Los Angeles, becoming a rising star in the cocktail world. Emilie Dubois hasn’t quite figured out who she is yet, and has been trying college majors and jobs on for size when the pair cross paths at acclaimed restaurant, Yerba Buena.

Told in third person through chapters that alternate point of view and challenge linearity in story-telling, LaCour depicts how Sara and Emilie grow and learn together, and separately, and the ways that their histories, experiences, and beliefs inform all of their relationships, including their relationships with each other.

One of my favorite things about LaCour’s books is that she never allows the trauma, grief, or mental health struggles of her characters to be more than just a part of their story. All of the characters here are dynamic and most are redeemable.

As much as trauma, grief, loss, and sadness exists in this book, this too is a story primarily of queer joy. While one side character experiences challenges related to coming out, sexual orientation here is otherwise a non-event, and queer and straight relationships in this book are depicted as dynamic, complicated, and nuanced.

Yerba Buena is a symbol that ties it all together, of course in the name of the restaurant where Sara and Emilie meet, but also as a plant that has meaning in each woman’s distinct storylines.

Though this book is beautiful and an absolute triumph, there are also some dark themes. Content warnings include: substance abuse and overdose, traumatic loss, infidelity, commerical sexual exploitation, divorce, death of a parent (off page), death of a grandparent, mention of a cult, foster care.

I'm not going to stop thinking about or talking about this one all year.  All the stars.
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Yerba Buena is a powerful novel about grief, family, love and finding your passion. I love Nina LaCour, but I don't think this is her strongest novel. It is still very much a worthwhile read.
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First of all, thank you so, SO much to Netgalley and Flatiron Books for giving me the chance to read Nina LaCour's first adult novel. I absolutely loved "Hold Still" when I read it and I new I was in for a treat when I got the notification that I had been approved for this. 

"Yerba Buena" follows two different protagonists in alternating perspectives. Sara Foster, who ran away to Los Angeles at the age of sixteen after a series of dramatic losses leaves her hollow. Emilie Dubois, who is trying to fill her own hollowness by finding a purpose in life. In adulthood, as a renowned bartender and florist respectively, they meet. It is posed as a story of two characters finding love, but it is so much more than that. It is the story of two people reckoning with the horrors of their past and growing from them. It is a story of healing even when it seems impossible.

I absolutely loved our main characters and their stories. They were saw raw and so incredibly human, and I often felt their words and thoughts deep within the crevices of my being. They made me laugh and they made me cry. Never have I read a book where I can relate to the characters on such a fundamental level. Never have I read a book where I felt so strongly about the characters receiving an ending they deserve.

The descriptions and overall prose, as always, were absolutely gorgeous. They used so much imagery, played so heavily on the senses that I could see, smell, taste everything that Nina LaCour put on the page. Excuse me while I try to make fillet aperitif in real life.

Nina LaCour has truly done it again. While I loved Hold Still, I can safely say this book is my favorite of hers and I'll never forget it for as long as I live. Please, if you get the chance to read this book, do it.

<b>Please note the following trigger warnings: addiction/drug and alcohol abuse, sexual assault/sex work of a minor, death</b>
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This was my first Nina LaCour novel and it was perfect. I loved everything of it, it is a calm and fresh novel but also full of heartwarming moments. Definitely a new favorite.
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Somehow both powerful and gentle, those book is a view into the merging of two lives. What makes this book so beautiful I'd how we grow to understand and care about our protagonists, Emilie and Sara, before we even see them meet. The slow burn of their relationship, the way the wtiting doesn't rush to reach any sort of climax or conclusion, is one of this book's greatest strengths. LaCour's first adult novel is a must-read because it tackles darker subject material with her same comforting and gorgeous writing style. 

I am a huge fan of Nina LaCour and this book did not disappoint. I will be buying a copy when it is published. This book is perfect for people who love lgbtq+ romances, beautiful slow character arcs, and dark subject material with optimistic undertones.
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This is the adult debut of YA author Nina LaCour, and it is a lovely, moving story of two women and their individual life paths that eventually lead to each other. Sara and Emilie each have their share of personal trauma, and I loved how LaCour wrote her characters' emotional development. She is a master at bringing out deep emotions in her characters and relationships while writing a seemingly simple story. Despite jumps in the timeline, I was fully immersed and invested in the novel from beginning to end. Thank you to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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A beautiful, contemporary love story about two women who are trying to find their way in the world, and find each other in the process. I have never read anything by Nina LaCour, but I know how beloved she is by YA readers. I was looking forward to read her first adult novel, and it certainly didn't disappoint. I loved the LA setting, the poignant coming of age stories, and the truly sweet and gorgeous love between Emilie and Sara -- two characters who I really enjoyed spending time with.
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Nina LaCour is the only author I regularly read who is guaranteed to make me ugly cry theough every novel. Yerba Buena is poignant, traumatic, and beautifully written, This book is definitely more new adult than YA, but older teens will be as captivated by the characters and their journeys as adults will be.
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"She existed outside of her life and she knew it. When faced with danger, she couldn’t even shout. She barely heard a word people said, too busy making her face appear eager, nodding her head, and saying, “How interesting.”"

I read and loved LaCour's previous books and was very excited to see an adult novel. It did not disappoint. 

I loved the story of Sara and Emilie, each of them struggling in their own way, trying to feel whole and trying to make their lives "work." Trying to survive in a world that hasn't been kind to them. I loved how each of them have an art (flowers/renovating and making cocktails) that allows them to bring forth their creativity and add their unique beauty to the world. I loved how real and flawed they are.

This story is about love. It's about trying again, being willing to be vulnerable and be seen and finding your way in a world that hasn't always been good to you. LaCour is an excellent story teller and this story will stay with you for a long, long time.

with gratitude to Flatiron Books and netgalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review
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