To be fair, I am a Nina LaCour fan and could not wait to read this book. I absolutely loved it. The way the stories of the two main characters overlap is excellent. They have similar wounds, but express them in such different ways that they almost act as repellent magnets, meeting and then pushing away from each other. There was a great push-pull and reckoning with family in both stories.
The only quibble I have with YERBA BUENA was, well, the use of Yerba Buena. It felt very heavy-handed and was used so much that it lost its effect. The restaurant name, the herb, the drink, and more... it was overkill. Otherwise, the characters, the settings, the relationships... they were outstanding.
I am also looking forward to recommending this to students who have read previous novels by LaCour and are ready for something more "grown up." It's also a good way for them to see how the same writer approaches YA vs. stories geared for "adults." It will be a way to help show my writing students how they can grow their writing as well as how a writer can use nuance to connect with specific, intended audiences.
I was not the biggest fan of this, but I think it is because I am definitely growing out of the young adult genre. I am more of a romance reader now.
First things first, I wish I'd looked up trigger warnings before starting the book. The beginning is very heavy. TW: death, drugs/drug overdose, missing persons, statutory rape
And yet, somehow, this book is a quiet book. It's told in third person but leans heavily towards narration and inner monologue over dialogue. It's about two girls growing into women and coming into themselves, dealing with trauma and hardships, and falling in love.
I love Nina LaCour's writing, and it's the main thing that kept my attention. The characters were likable enough, but there wasn't much I cared about here, besides the gorgeous writing. It probably would have been a DNF for me if written by anyone other than Nina. But from Nina, it's 4 stars. I don't think I'd ever do a reread, but it was an overall enjoyable experience.
The story is told in alternating chapters between Emilie and Sara. Sara Foster runs away from home at sixteen and heads to LA, where she becomes a much sought after bartender with a knack for creating brilliant cocktails. Emilie grew up in LA and is stuck adrift. She’s in her seventh year and fifth major as an undergraduate. The two women's lives intertwine but for reasons outside of their control they are separated time and again. This is a beautiful and richly told story. I really enjoyed knowing both sides of Sara and Emilie’s love story. They were both flawed individuals, who continually worked to make themselves better. Admittedly, some parts were hard to read. Adults who fail children make me angry, but this was written in a way that the characters didn’t focus on the crap hand they were dealt with. Beautiful prose throughout and a lovely story about finding ones place in the world and surrounding yourself with people who build you up and love you unconditionally. Thank you to Net Galley, Flatiron Books, and Nina LaCour for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.
This is the first time I’ve read a book by this author, and I now get what all the talk was about. I will be reading more! I could see this book as a young adult book also as the characters are young when we meet them and I’m curious to see how the books labeled YA differ from this one.
This is such a very well written story. I loved these girls, and they will stay with me for a long time. Such interesting people with different careers and interests. I think they are both great representations of young women without the usual boring types of jobs and activities. Both are well developed realistic characters who develop over the course of the book and become mature, self-aware women.
The plot moves along at a good pace without any dragging, but I would consider this more of a character driven narrative. I did find it a bit repetitious where backstories were related when we, the readers, already knew the facts relayed.
I enjoyed Nina’s style of writing; easy but beautiful. There is a sensory level of detail that entertains and creates a wonderful picture without any of the tedium I often dislike in descriptive writing. The contrasting locations of rural northern California and urban Los Angeles set the two opposing scenes perfectly. The other characters we meet are multi-dimensional, no bad vs good guys. I thought this was very clever; even the guy who might be considered the evil one is redeemed a bit in the end.
I loved the drink recipes and the flower bouquets. The art involved in house flipping was very interesting. This is so much more than a romance. It’s a coming-of-age novel where each character grows enough to be able to enter into a healthy relationship despite early inner and outer obstacles.
This is a clever, innovative book and I look forward to more from this author as I catch up on her backlist.
Thanks for introducing me and thanks to Nina LaCour, NetGalley and Flatiron.
This was very different from what I expected from the description. It was much more melancholy, and much more beautiful. While definitely romantic, the book was not a romance but a two-character bildungsrman, focusing less on the romance between Emilie and Sata and more on their characters, experiences, and growth as individuals, and how their experiences cause them to relate to each other and the world. It was lovely.
Nina LaCour writes heartfelt and heartbreaking stories about people finding each other through all kinds of life's tragedies. Yerba Buena is a beautiful LGBGQ+ romance and, ultimately, a story of two women trying to move beyond life's painful memories. Yerba Buena is a the healing herb, and its presence in both of the women's lives is what ultimately connects them together.
I don't want to give much more of the plot away, so I will just say that if you are not yet a fan of Nina LaCour-- you should be. While some of her other books skew more young adult, this one feels meant for adults. It's beautiful writing, lovable characters, and an immersive story told in multiple perspectives.