Cover Image: Yerba Buena

Yerba Buena

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Member Reviews

This one grew on me. I wasn’t sure about the shifting perspectives and timelines and had plenty of those “I wish we spent more time with x situation/character” moments…but then often we did! So that was fun. What I loved most were the California settings and how having two of those (NorCal - Russian River area and SoCal - LA) added depth to the CA sense of place. I also loved the complexity of how the title of the book was woven into the story.
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This was excellent, such a moving story about coming of age and coming into your own. The colors were so vibrant that I felt like I was watching the story unfold to this amazing backdrop. The timeline was not exactly linear between the two POVs, which at first kind of threw me, but then I ended up loving it. Makes me want to restore old houses even though I'm not even sure I could build a bookshelf, 4.5 stars.
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I was hoping for more. The book was good and I enjoyed the story but I didn’t think the 2 main characters were defined enough I found it was easy to mix them up
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4.5 stars!

Yerba Buena is an immersive character driven story, spanning years while exploring the intersecting lives of two different women as they navigate through their own, facing hardships, finding joy and trying to overcome their separate family traumas.

If you are familiar with the author, you would know her books do not follow the traditional storytelling structure, nor is it easy to assign her books a genre. Yerba Buena is no different. At first it seems like a coming of age story, after a while you might feel it's an extremely emotional star-crossed romance, but again as you get further into the story, you'd wonder if it's mostly a stunning literary piece focused on grief, loss and heartache, trauma and healing. It's essentially a mashup of all three, although maybe leans a bit more to the literary fiction side, due to the luscious writing and an inordinate amount of pain and tragedy for a single book. And yet, no one could have pulled off this story like Nina LaCour. I think she has a rare talent for writing about grief, its aftermath and healing.

Don't go into this looking for a plot, there isn't much or a traditional romance, the love story is just a part of the bigger story. Also, it is extremely content heavy so beware if you need to be in the right state of mind before picking this up, and make sure to check out the trigger warnings.

Read this if you like slow burn, character driven, genre defying stories with lush descriptions and writing so vivid it just comes alive on the pages.

Lastly, the narration was simply stellar. I am a huge Julia Whelan fan and have the simplest rule, that if she narrates a book I'll listen to it instead of reading a physical copy! So, enough said.
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Nina LaCour can do no wrong in my books. This is another stunning beautiful book read to perfection by Julia Whelan. The audiobook truly sets you in the mindset of Sarah and through her love story and just journey of discovery. As someone who truly feels lost a lot of the time Lacours writing has always struck a deep cord with me and Yerba Buena is no exception.

Thank you to Macmillan Audio and NetGalley for my ALC for an honest review.
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I did not love how long it took this book to tie the two main characters together. I think it will earn good reviews from some readers but it was not my favorite book to listen to.
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This is a terrific adult literary debut from the best-selling YA author, Nina Lecour.

What I liked:
-Narration by one of my favorites: Julia Whelan
-Queer female romance/friendship (perfect for Pride Month)
-Growth + self-awareness of the  characters 
-LA vibes
-Excellent cover artwork 
-Not too long (8 hours)

What I didn't like:
-Hard to get into at first (had to retrace a few chapters)
-Not super memorable once finished 


Special thanks to Macmillan Audio for the advanced listener audiobook via the NetGalley app.
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Perhaps one of the best-written sapphic books of late, Yerba Buena brings readers through space and time to see how life has a way of gently pushing people back into each other's orbits. This isn't a love story by traditional definition, nor is it overtly sexy or a comedy. Instead, it almost feels like a memoir, traversing the lives of two young women into adulthood. Family, conflict, hopes and dreams all mingle together in this novel. An excellent first foray into a new age group for LaCour.
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I was intrigued to pick this up because I loved Nina LaCour’s YA novel We Are Okay and I was curious to pick up her adult debut. I absolutely loved it and Julia Whelan as a narrator exceeds my expectations every time. Julia Whelan knows how to convey emotion through her voice, and it makes the characters easy to understand and everything is clear. 
Nina LaCour covered difficult topics very delicately but accurately. Emily & Sara have dealt with difficult things in their pasts. The difficult parts were explored and talked about, not just swept under the rug. I loved the representation in this book and how Nina LaCour did not place labels on anyone and just allowed her characters to love who they loved. I connected with the characters as they are in their twenties, and they are really finding themselves. They don’t have everything figured out and they make mistakes. 
I would highly recommend picking up this novel. I enjoyed myself so much and I finished this audiobook in a day. I didn’t want to stop listening and I loved the characters. 
I would recommend looking up trigger warnings if you are sensitive to certain topics.
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This book was a beautiful balance between trauma and darkness as well as love and promise. Side by side timelines of two women makes for a beautiful plot. I'm not sure if it was the side by side timelines or the writing or the audiobook narrator but I had a hard time getting into this book. None of them stuck out in a jarring way but I still struggled to get into this story.
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This book was a very good listen. I loved the growth and triumph of the main characters. The love story was like a flower, slow to bloom but a beautiful blossom. Will definitely be recommending this book.
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An unexpected vibe to this book but it was very enjoyable and I would definitely recommend it. What I thought was really special about Yerba Buena was its beautiful way of having such distinct and interesting characters that you can't help but think about when you are not currently reading the story. I thought the various pathways the characters went on and the realizations they had throughout were really interesting and well thought out, as if someone was just writing about real people. The writing was plain enough to not be overbearing and let you drift into the story, but still had the correct amount of descriptors and interesting language that formed intricate and realistic relationships and storylines. 

Overall, Yerba Buena was an enjoyable debut adult novel that felt like a journey through finding and allowing oneself to dream and let other people care for and take care of you.
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This book.

I'm not typically a re-reader, but I read an ARC of Yerba Buena last December and adored it. And when I saw the audiobook version was narrated by Julia Whelan, I requested that, too.

I struggled too much with the audio quality of this one via the netgalley shelf app to do it justice before publication, so I waited until I could purchase and listen to a finished audiobook to write this review.

If I thought I loved this book before, the only thing better is having the incredible (and prolific- serious, how does she sleep?) Julia Whelan read it to me.  The narration here is impeccable, and this is the perfect book for Julia's voice acting. So much about this book is in LaCour's careful word choice, so this is one to take your time with.  I listened to this at 1.6x speed (the slower end of how I typically listen to books), which allowed me to stay grounded in the language of the story as well as the story itself, though I do think that the benefit of knowing the characters names helped me keep threads that might be challenging to readers experiencing this for the first time via audio.

Here's my review of Yerba Buena itself, which I wrote after my first experience reading this:

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 that it makes you 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.
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***4.5 Stars On My Instagram Account***

Yerba Buena is the debut adult novel from YA author Nina Lacour that is a family drama sapphic love story filled with coming of age angst. 

After a tragedy, Sara 16, runs away and faces the worst of humanity. Emily is a professional student with little self worth or direction. When they meet the past hinders their future. Through their past, their pain and their self acceptance they embark on a hopeful love story.

Narrator Julia Whelan is her perfect storytelling self for this intense often too real drama.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from MacMillan Audio via #netgalley for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
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Though initially intrigued by the author and premise, I found the story's traumatic tones too disruptive to continue the story.
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Yerba Buena
by Nina LaCour
Pub Date: 31 May 2022
Contemporary Lit | LGBTQ Fiction

𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐏𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐞: A sweeping queer love story and an excellent green book (teaser!). 

𝐓𝐡𝐞 Review: Yerba Buena was my May @bookofthemonth club choice, and I saved it to kick off my #pridemonth reads. 

In her first adult novel, celebrated author Nina LaCour creates a gorgeous story of two women struggling with their own variations of abandonment, addiction, grief, and trauma. 

Having each formed a unique coping framework, their two lives eventually come together, drift apart, and come together again. 

I enjoyed their journey and the vivid prose along the way. As self-proclaimed plant queen, I'm now also adding the California native herb yerba buena to my list of new plants to try in next year's garden.

Thank you to @netgalley , @flatiron_books , & @macmillan.audio for the advanced copies; had to get a finished copy too as the cover is a stunner!
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Yerba Buena follows Sarah and Emily’s journeys that eventually lead them to each other. At only 16 Sarah runs away from home to Los Angeles. She tries to leave her traumatic past behind and decides to focus on the future. Emily is stuck. She’s in her mid-late 20s and still in school with no “real direction”. Chance encounters between Sarah and Emily make it clear their connection is special. 

I enjoyed getting to know both Sarah and Emily individually. What their lives looked like before they meet. Every choice and decision they make throughout different moments in their lives lead them to each other. I connected with Emily’s character a lot. I too have felt stuck, with no clear path, feeling like life is kind of passing me by and I really loved seeing her slowly find her way. I thought the love that develops between Sarah and Emily is so pure and destined. I really enjoyed Julia Whelan’s narration. She really brought Nina’s characters to life. I will definitely  be checking out more from this narrator and this author.
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I received an arc audiobook for this one, the narration was really good. This is a work of literary fiction about two women, Emilie & Sarah. It’s told from both POV’s. I loved that we got both characters back stories. Trigger warnings, so look those up. This is not fast paced, it’s a slow burn story about two souls trying to find/make their way to each other. The author’s writing is excellent, great character development. Lots of depth to this story, I enjoyed this audiobook.
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I rarely read/ listen to YA books, and was not sure what to expect, and found this book to be delightfully interesting which involved two storylines of two young women who find their way in the world and to each other. The narration with Julia Whelan helps to make this novel even more intriguing. Thank you Netgalley and Macmillan Audio for ARC. #MacmillanAudio, #YerbaBuena #NetGalley
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“Yerba Buena” is Nina LaCour’s debut adult novel and it packs every bit of the emotional punch that readers have come to expect from her young adult books. Julia Whelan is a wonderful narrator.

At 16, Sara Foster runs away from the tragedy of her Northern Californian home where she has been her younger brother’s caretaker since the death of their mother.

When her girlfriend is found dead in a lake, Sara knows she needs to leave town in order to begin a new life. She befriends a young man with a car and they participate in an activity which damages them, but allows them to earn some money before they head south towards Los Angeles. They run out of money before they make it to the city, and each ends up taking a job hoping they’ll be able to make enough money to buy dinner that night.

Eventually, Sara abandons the young man and starts making a name for herself behind the bar at a high-end LA restaurant, Yerba Buena.

Emilie Dubois is from the LA area and grew up with her parents and a sister who continually struggles with addiction. Emilie is studying her fifth college major and feels like she isn’t getting anywhere.

She begins arranging flowers and ends up at Yerba Buena making table arrangements. Emilie begins an affair with Jacob Lowell, Yerba Buena’s owner, and enjoys his attention until she discovers she’s his “side piece” and she calls off the relationship.

Sarah and Emilie connect and there’s immediate chemistry between them. Both characters are slightly broken and struggling to build lives from difficult pasts.

“Yerba Buena” is an emotional character study of two young women learning to love themselves and navigating the messiness of what it is to be newly independent adults. If you’re looking for a challenging coming-of-age story, this is a great one.

Content warnings: Sexual assault; drug and alcohol addiction.

A huge thank you to @NetGalley and @macmillian.audio for the advanced audiobook.
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