Beautiful, melancholic novel that I couldn't put down. Full of real life, messy as it is, relationships and people that disappoint, tragedy, beauty everywhere, if you look at it right. Amazing descriptions of cocktails and food that I wish I could go to Yerba Buena and try. A quintessential LA story as well. The only aspect I wish the author had covered a bit more deeply was [what being Creole meant to the sisters, what were some of the traditions or impacts of race, anything more than gumbo (hide spoiler)].
That was lovely..lovely and sad but hopeful. Sara and Emilie had such distinct voices and journeys and they flowed together so beautifully. There is no where to go, except in this journey with them. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC
Overall, I really enjoyed the story and enjoyed Nina LaCour's writing. I found the story engaging and I cared about the characters and found them they are were well rounded. I think I preferred LaCour’s writing for adults versus her YA writing but that is a personal preference.
This was my first Nina LaCour after literal years of hearing how great and queer her writing is and if this is an indication of what her other books are like, sign me right up for that backlist.
Emilie and Sara's path's cross one morning in a restaurant, unfortunately not meant to be in that moment. From there, we non-linearly learn about both of their pasts, alternating between their points of view, and see their journey back to each other. Somebody once said that LaCour writes sad, queer girls like nobody's business, and they were right. She doesn't pull any punches with the trauma that these women are carrying into their partnership. I hesitate to say too much specifically about the content here, though I would note content warnings and proceed with caution. But the prose is stunning and full of humanity. I've rarely encountered someone who can so artfully and accurately capture the essence of loneliness and melancholy and grief and self-discovery. Though I suppose it could be considered a romance, that wasn't really the point for me as a reader. I think it is a testament to finding your people, and that when you do find them, you don't have to have resolved your own shit to love someone else. In fact, having someone love you can give you purpose and drive to fix what has felt broken. Challenging and sad, but ultimately hopeful.
CW: drug abuse, overdose, death, death of a parent, death of a grandparent, commercial sexual exploitation of a minor, infidelity
I really enjoyed this young adult novel about a sixteen-year-old named Sara who runs away after a tragedy strikes and finds herself living in Los Angeles. I connected with this book right from the start because it begins in an area of Northern California that I am very familiar with. LaCour is a master of writing settings with verisimilitude. This is a beautifully rendered look at what it means to raise yourself when the adults around you have failed you. Sara matures into a successful bartender. Across town, Emilie feels detached from her Creole roots and is hired as a flower arranger at a fancy restaurant where she becomes intimate with floral centerpieces as well as the married owner of the restaurant. How these women intersect is at the heart of this engaging story about love and comfort. Thank you to NetGalley and Flatiron for the advanced review copy of this novel.
This book was stunning. It’s vivid, luscious, immersive, and heartbreaking. While I cannot adopt it for my classroom (I teach 7th graders), it will hold a spot in my personal library.
I am a huge fan of Nina LaCour’s YA work. Her writing is haunting and enveloping. As I said before, she creates an immersive reading experience. Her foray into adult novels is exactly what I expected. An elevated version of her writing. Her characters are still grappling with their own demons, but the voice has shifted to a more mature yet just as uncertain narrator. You feel for Sara and Emilie. You root for them. You’re ready for them to take root. It’s the most frustrating, intense, and real relationship. This book was phenomenal!!!
Yerba buena is a common name for many herbs, but the one this book references is a small, delicate, ground cover that thrives in even the harshest conditions. Its an apt symbol for the two women at the heart of this novel. And like this novel, the herb has a tenderness and sweetness contained within.
The book's description lead me to believe this was going to be more of a romance, but it's really a coming-of-age story of two women and their subsequent relationship at the end. Both Emilie and Sara face tough questions dealing with their pasts and where to go from there. The beauty of the story takes hold when they start building a home and a future.
Recommended for all but might be more in line with New Adult readers.
Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this title. This was a delightful book, even though it dealt with some difficult subjects like addiction and grief. I love stories that switch narrators and weave the tale of two lives coming together, and this one did both flawlessly. I'm also a sucker for a queer romance. I devoured this book, and recommend for any fans of queer lit.
I'm a huge fan of Nina LaCour and I'm very glad that she's made her adult debut. It's very different than her YA novels (and I hope that she continues to write those) but her writing is so gorgeous. I hope this is the first of many adult novels, too.
The pacing is slow but this is such a good novel in vignettes. I could've read hundreds more pages. Highly recommended.
Let me preface by saying I LOVE Nina LaCour. I could not get my hands on her debut adult novel fast enough, and I was not disappointed - everything about this book is perfect. Yerba Buena follows Emilie and Sara as they weave in and out of each other’s lives from their late teens and into their twenties. When LaCour finally brings these women together their relationship is just so real it’s almost painful to read. The beauty and intricacy with which LaCour writes queer characters and relationships is simply incredible. I cannot wait to put this book in hands.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.