Cover Image: Yerba Buena

Yerba Buena

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Member Reviews

I went into this story blind and absolutely fell in love with LaCour's flawed but so very loveable characters. Sara and Emilie have such distinct voices as they both struggle through years of feeling adrift.  The novel is split between the two characters perspectives as they grow from adolescence to early adulthood and finally find their way into each other's lives while also finding their passions and themselves. LaCour has crafted a story that is specific to her characters but also so very relatable to anyone who has every felt out of place or lost or not quite enough. 

I will endlessly recommend this queer coming of age story and think back on it often. I'm looking forward to diving in to more of LaCour's writing soon.
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I loved this book from start to finish. Compelling characters, beautiful writing, and an engaging plot that will make it hard to walk away from.
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Nina LaCour continues to be one of my favorite authors. There's such an effortless craft to her writing -- you can tell no word is carelessly added, but there's still an ease to her prose. 
Even though this was her adult debut and I knew that, I was still taken aback by some of the content. However, all of the pieces in the story felt fleshed out and not gratuitous, and aided in character growth and backstory.
It's a deceptively short novel that touches upon so many topics -- grief, love, addiction, rebirth, abuse, and coming to terms with uncomfortable truths. I'm eager to read what she has out next.
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WOW this book was a delight! YERBA BUENA by Nina LaCour follows Sara and Emilie, two well-defined, complex, lovable characters, as they navigate love, loss, family drama, career ups and downs, heartbreak, and more. 

I've read a few of LaCour's YA novels, and this novel, her adult debut, lived up to my memory of her beautiful writing and compelling characters. I loved the way LaCour weaved Sara and Emilie's stories together, building complex, intricate lives and worlds for them both. This story gripped me - it was at times heartwrenching, at times heartwarming, and felt completely genuine and believable throughout - and aspects of it will stay with me for a long time.

I highly recommend YERBA BUENA to LaCour's fans, and anyone looking for a beautiful story.
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I love Nina LaCour’s young adult novels, so I was so excited to read her adult debut. The writing was gorgeous and made it so hard to put down. I think I would categorize it more as a literary fiction novel.

I love that it was told in alternating points of view. Sara was a determined but grief stricken character. Emilie just seemed so lost in life. I enjoyed how it was such a slow burn romance when it did start budding.

This book immediately starts with love and loss and drags you right in. The backstory on both girls was intense and well told. I highly recommend this book as I had a hard time finishing it, because I simply didn’t want it to end.
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Love, Loss, Rebirth, Queer love. 
We experience the events from the alternating Emilie and Sara’s points of view. Time moves forward but the past has a heavy hand. 
Not a quick beach read but something you'll want to sit down and savor, experience. 
Fun game, every time "Yerba Buena" is mentioned you take a shot lol. Or not, depending on what you're drinking it may affect you greatly.
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Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour is a contemporary romance, featuring two women with a history of trauma and grief, a chance meeting at a restaurant, and an instant romantic connection. Sarah Foster is a renowned bartender at the eatery Yerba Buena. It’s here at Yerba Buena that Sarah meets Emily DuBois. The two women are immediately drawn to one another, but must navigate each other’s histories if they are to become a part of each other’s futures.
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This was beautifully written to be sure. Admittedly I put it aside for a bit in the middle but I’m so glad I returned, because the second half was wonderfully layered and everything came together in the end.
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I had previously read a Nina Lacour book and not loved it, so I was hesitant coming into her adult debut. However, I was pleasantly surprised! I really loved this tenderhearted, coming-of-age story about finding love and healing from your past. I love stories with a foodie element, so I appreciated that this book incorporated food and drink into its narrative. These characters were complicated and messy, but truly lovable. The writing was also absolutely beautiful with so many quotable lines. I think if you enjoy coming of age stories, foodie fiction, and love stories with messy characters, you will love Yerba Buena!
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How do you choose your next read? I'm typically a mood reader. I choose whichever book strikes my fancy at any given moment. This strategy helps me from getting burned out on reading, but it also means that some books that I've agreed to review for publishers have to wait until I'm in the right mindset to read them. Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour is one such casualty. I received an ebook and audiobook of the novel well before it was published in May, but the queer coming-of-age story wasn't what I wanted to read then. I've been more about a quick-paced plot as of late, so thrillers have been my go-to read for the last couple of weeks. Still, I've found that books in that genre just aren't giving me the character development that I can latch on to.  So here I am, in the perfect mood to read a book like Yerba Buena. 

Sara is looking for an escape. She finally felt like she could accept herself when her secret girlfriend was found dead. Either unwilling or unable to cope with that loss at such a young age, Sara did what any enterprising teenager would do. She ran away from home. In her attempt to put the traumas of her past behind her, she encountered new ordeals that would haunt her into her future. All this is to say that Sara carried a lot of baggage as she entered adulthood. Years later she found a kind of safe haven and peace with her job as a bartender at the trendy restaurant Yerba Buena. It is here that her path would collide with Emilie, changing the trajectory of her life forever. 

Emilie is feeling stuck. She's been in college for seven years, cycling through five different majors only to feel as if she still hasn't found her path in life. Low on time, patience, and money, she randomly takes up a job with a flower shop. Emilie finds refuge in the task of floral arrangement, a process that allows her creativity to flourish while also earning her some much-needed money. As her obvious talent reveals itself, she is entrusted with arranging bouquets for different clients. One of these clients just so happens to be the restaurant Yerba Buena. 

Yerba Buena sees successful YA author Nina LaCour successfully transition to a work geared more for adult audiences. There are still echoes of her writing for younger readers, especially in moments that show the main characters before they are adults. In this case, that works to LaCour's benefit, imbuing the young characters with an authenticity that I was immediately able to connect with. The novel is as complex as the people who inhabit it, a work that tackles topics of sexuality, coming of age, and family trauma through layered scenarios, time periods, and relationships. This is a slow burn of a read. LaCour allows her story to unfold at a natural pace, freeing her characters and their emotions to dictate what comes next. This means that the characters, not the plot, drive the momentum of the novel. It was a bit of an adjustment for this seasoned thriller reader, but I was ultimately happy to have this change of pace. Yerba Buena works as an expertly written romance and coming-of-age story that brims with a purity that is rarely found in character-driven works.
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I received an ARC of Yerba Buena from Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review. 

I was very much looking forward to Nina LaCour’s adult debut after being enraptured by the lyrical prose and melancholy tone of We Are Okay—I wasn’t sure if that mood was specific to that book, or if it was just LaCour’s style. It’s the latter! Yerba Beuna maintains everything I loved about the writing in We Are Okay...unfortunately, almost nothing else here works, and in this case, the writing style actively undermines rather than reinforces the characters and story. 

Yerba Buena follows two characters: Sara, who runs away from home with a boy named Grant after the death of her girlfriend, and Emilie, who has no distinguishing characteristics that I can recall. They circle like stars in orbit around one another until inevitably colliding. Sara’s story, although it has a more immediate hook, is much more difficult to connect with—the things she does and the things that happen to her, while not necessarily unrealistic, escalate and accelerate to the point where they become absurd. Rather than slowly turning up the heat, LaCour merely drops the frog into boiling water, leaving the reader without any time to become invested. 

Emilie’s story, while more digestible than Sara’s, still left me cold and distant. Everyone she interacts with struck me as far too cavalier about situations and relationships which should elicit strong emotional reactions. I think this is intentional, meant to reflect Emilie’s detached internal state, but intentionality does not necessarily make something good. It makes her story hard to follow and hard to care about, and the dreamy prose only exacerbates this problem, to the point where the eventual Sara/Emilie relationship feels perfunctory rather than fulfilling. 

What makes all this is so odd is that I know LaCour can wield distance and dreaminess to great effect; these same qualities were exactly what made We Are Okay so good. Why does it play out differently here? What ineffable variable changed? I don’t know. There is one haunting image from the beginning of Yerba Beuna which will be seared into my brain for a long while—that of Sara’s girlfriend being dredged from the river, water pouring from her body. But the rest of this book was like a slippery eel I was unable to get a grip on, a nebulous and half-remembered thing that couldn’t command my attention.
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A crystalline, sharp sapphic romance, chronicling how two women's lives weave along for years until they find a path that leads to each other, and the hardship of letting go of their pasts and making their way into a future, possibly together.

Things about Yerba Buena that I loved:

1) That the characters are so familiar to me, and I'm sure you'll recognize plenty of people that you know in here  too, and they are never rendered as a stock character;
2) I love the descriptions of everything within, given a full, lush way of transporting the images right into my head. The descriptions are so crisp, from the food to the people, to the descriptions of foliage and flowers. The prose, too, belongs as a great descriptor of the setting and protagonists: collected, a little bit  distant, troubled by some kind of unnamable presence or absence;
3) Emilie was the better protagonist. She was better formed and more realistic, and had more hopes and goals, yet the typical millennial ennui about her future and place in life to be relatable and real for people who are reading this book. Her inability to focus on a major was refreshing, to me.

I have a few reasons why I didn't rate it higher, despite why I liked the novel as much as I did:

1) There was a bit *too* much distance, making this read as an attempt, maybe, to be more gritty than the author had been before, so sometimes it felt like a creative writing exercise, to write "real life";
2) There's too much instant love and yet not enough chemistry to pull it together, not even between people who are just friends;
3) I'm sure the novel is set in recent years, yet there are all these twenty-somethings living in upscale apartments and dining at restaurants and drinking multiple drinks at bars, and almost everything links back to a party. One of the main characters renovates and flips a house left to her in an inheritance, and then buys and flips a literal mansion, after taking out a bank loan. No one is described as working a particularly grueling job or worrying about money, but they spend a lot of money and don't give it a single thought;
4) There wasn't really much plot, and few of the characters ever take a lot of action. They just drift along, and considering the money angle above, it made me roll my eyes;
5) Last but definitely not least, Annie was done so dirty by not allowing her to be in the story any longer, and was unfortunately used as a plot device to get the story going. I wanted to see why Sara loved her, and I wanted to see more actual impact from her death from Sara and from Annie's family.

I liked it, but I think it could have used more work to develop into something more realistic and touching.
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Yerba Buena
By: Nina LaCour

Quote: “My favorite thing about my home is sharing it with the people I love.”

Thank You NetGalley and Flat Iron Books for the e-arc. Yerba Buena follows two women whose paths keep crossing. It’s  coming of age and star-crossed lovers vibe. I cared so much for both  of the characters. The book switch between two POV: Emilie’s and Sara’s and get to know them between their teens and twenties. Both comes from a difficult homes and they wanted a fresh start but their past keep getting in the middle of their story. The author really focuses heavily on descriptions of settings and locations. Even though this is a good thing sometimes got me distracted in the descriptions and not the plot.

This book made me reflect in how come you could meet the perfect partner and still not be the perfect timing. Both characters were deeply in love, had the greatest chemistry and their timing was never “the perfect time”. Life kept getting on the way and sometimes that’s just it. 

I really Loved the book and like I said I felt deeply for both of the characters. <3
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Something about this I couldn’t fall in love with. As interesting as the title, cover, and premise are, the writing itself didn’t wow me. More often than not, I was confused about the settings, characters, and overall plot. 

I had to DNF once reading it became work. Perhaps I’ll try again one day, and it’ll be everything I want and need, but for now, nope!
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Absolutely beautiful 5 ⭐️ read 

Where to even begin? This book follows two woman as they navigate and grow through their lives—then they find one another. 

Sara has a terribly sad beginning, wish there was more of Grant from the first part of the book! . Loved her journey and story of success becoming a sought after bartender. Family dynamics were so chaotic and messy and was beautifully written and real. 

Emilie’s sister dynamics were great, relationship with Jacob was interesting, messiness of doing odd jobs and finding your way in your twenties (floral arrangements, caretaker, house flipping). 

As always, Nina’s prose and descriptions were strong and gorgeous —highlighted many large passages of writing. I enjoyed how this love story was  raw and real. They aren’t perfect characters and neither is their relationship. This story is not for everyone, people will probably say it’s boring since it’s mainly just following them through life. But I absolutely adored these characters and I hope the two stay together and create such a happy life after all they have even through❤️

Thank you NetGalley & the publisher for the ARC! It was such a wonderful read by Nina once again! Can’t wait to see what she does next in Adult Fiction!
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Lovely book, a much more full-bodied story than   the summary gives it credit for. Heartfelt and authentic with well-rounded characters. Terrific detail within the characters’ professions. I’ll be reading more from Nina.
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This was different than what I expected initially, but I'm so glad I read it. I have not read Nina LaCour's other books (I know that they are YA or mostly YA) but I'm glad I got to try this one as an introduction to her work. I will probably go back to some of her earlier work. This was heavier than I expected, but I still loved the depth of the story and the way we got to learn about the characters.
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This book was amazing. I coudn't put it down. It was magical. Higly recommended! The characters, the plots, the writting: wonderful and perfect.
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Such an awesome book. I have read some of Nina LacCour's YA books before and they always make me come away thinking. The emotions that the author can convey within a book is amazing. I absolutely loved that she took the characters on this journey from their teenage years into early aduthood. I wish that more authors would explore this age range because it is a very unrepresented portion in books. All around 5 stars.
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Oof. This book hurt. Nina always tells important stories, and I absolutely loved her first foray into adult fiction.
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