Cover Image: Yerba Buena

Yerba Buena

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YERBA BUENA review

⭐️⭐️⭐️.5/5

🌱Yerba Buena is a story that follows the lives of two different women and the struggles they face. This book covers some heeeeavy topics. The story starts by introducing you to two women, Sara and Emilie. They both have a looooot of trauma and grief to process. I loved how the concept of Yerba Buena was connected throughout the whole book! 

🌱Here’s a summary of the plot:👇
Sara Foster deals with an unimaginable loss at the age of 16. She decides to run away from home and restart her life in Los Angeles. However, in order to make it to LA she has to do some questionable things. Emilie feels stuck in a rut. She’s never been fully happy with the direction her life is taking. On a whim, she takes a job as the florist for a well known restaurant, Yerba Buena. The consequences of Emilie’s decision to take that job will be felt by both women for years to come. 

🌱I went into Yerba Buena expecting a love story, which it was, but I felt like it took the plot a while to get to that point.  A lot of the book seems focused on giving background on Sara and Emilie’s lives, which definitely added to the story. However, I would have liked a little less background and a little more focus on how their lives overlapped. I still enjoyed this one and think it’s a book others would enjoy!
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I enjoyed this book.  I wasn't really sure what to expect going in, as I have never read anything from Nina LaCour before, but it was good.

I have to be honest that this isn't my usual type of book, it's a bit more on the serious side for me, I guess?  It was just slow and it didn't seem like a lot was happening, so it was hard to stay motivated to listen to it.

Overall, solid 3 stars.
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If you asked me what kind of book Yerba Buena is, I wouldn't know what to tell you. According to GoodReads, the novel is labeled a romance, but it is much more than that. Yerba Buena reads like a best friend sharing the story of their lives and leaves nothing unsaid. 

Overall, the character development of Sara and Emile is the focus of Yerba Buena. The women's character flaws and traumas ultimately bring the two characters together. Nina LaCour writes these women who take center stage in the novel with such realism that the reader can connect with the characters personally—leaving their mark on the reader long after the book's last pages. 

The journey to the end of the novel is a beautiful ride through love, loss, and relationship. The pages also contain vivid descriptions of California and the atmosphere of everyday life. 

I listened to Yerba Buena on audio, and Julia Whelan makes the story even better. The perfect novel for summer vacation reading.
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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher I was able to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
***
Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour is the author’s debut adult novel. 
It follows two girls, introduced as teens and at moments where their lives are shaped by something that affects them going forward into adults when they cross paths but are still haunted by their pasts. 
Sarah fled her home at 16 and now is a much sought after bartender/mixologist. She hasn’t gone home since she left and barely is in contact with the younger brother she left behind, definitely not her father. Emilie feels stuck, adrift. She has changed her major 5 times, is in her 7th year of college and just doesn’t know what she wants, what she needs. 
Both women are disasters. Their lives are messy and honestly they should focus on themselves and therapy (so much therapy is needed) but they find each other even as their own pasts come colliding into their current life and choices have to be made.
I love Nina LaCour’s books. She has a penchant for characters that are messy and not necessarily getting a happy ending but pointed in the right direction of a happy ending if it’s something they can find it in themselves to fight for, and honestly that is Yerba Buena. Sarah and Emilie can both have a happy ending, but they still have a lot of work to weed through to get there but if it’s something they both want, well it is possible.
Honestly, I most resonated with Emilie. That lost feeling she has, the need to keep trying new things, find the thing that is her and still feel like maybe she’s missing out by settling. Needing to feel needed but also feeling overwhelmed by it. Waiting for things to happen but also wanting to be the one to make things happen. I was most happy when Emilie, who was constantly needing to find people to ground herself, finally found something all on her own. She still has a way to go but finally finding her footing gives me hope I still will in the future.
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Title: Yerba Buena
Author: Nina LaCour
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Read if you like:
LGTBQIA representation 
Overcoming your past
Character driven stories
Alternate storylines 



My Thoughts:
This was my BOTM for May, but I actually listened to this book on audio during some parts. I will definitely say that this story is easier to follow in its physical form, but it was fine via audiobook. I thought this was a beautifully sad story following two narratives and their very different stories. I liked how the author talked about the different traumas that the characters went through and how different they were dealing with grief, guilt, loss, and everything else. I will say this story does cover some heavy content so do a little research before you read this one or reach out to me if there is some concern.
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Nina Lacour's debut adult fiction novel follows the individual journey of Sara Foster and Emilie Dubois from teens to their late twenties. These two live in different cities, have different family circumstances, and different life paths, but keep accidentally meeting. Slowly, they discover that they deeply understand each other as they quietly fall in love.  

Yerba Buena means good herb, and boy is this book good - a remarkable character-driven, coming-of-age story. 

Here’s what I loved:
✨Life’s path is never linear. 
✨Exploring trauma and grief along with love and friendship creates multidimensional characters. 
✨You can be more than your past. 
✨Finding love is sometimes about timing. And finding true love means sharing even the ugly parts of life.  

It’s a love story that has as much breathtaking beauty as well as painful heartbreak.  Definitely, more about the journey than the destination - simply minty sweet. 

Why not 5 stars?  Julia Whelan is an incredible narrator and offers much to this story, but Yerba Buena reads better in physical format, at least in the beginning.  As the story jumps through timelines and characters, I was confused about which characters were part of which family and story.  However, once I settled into the story, the nonlinear timeline was easier to follow and honestly quite enjoyable on audio!
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I love Nina LaCour and in all honesty she can do no wrong in my book so this review is definitely biased. 
I really liked this book. This book is much deeper and definitely older than her other books. This book was beautiful and lyrical. This book was slow but it flowed beautifully and by the end I was satisfied. I definitely enjoyed this book but it wasn't easy to read either. This book isn't for everyone but those who it is for is going to love it.
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This is my first book by this author.  Not always a huge fan of a character driven story but this book was so well done and I enjoyed it.

We meet Sara and Emilie - women from two very different types of lives whose paths keep crossing and whose chemistry is undenieable.   Both are dealing with grief, family trauma, and as they cope, trying to determine who they are and where is their place in the world.

We get both their perspectives and are along for the ride as they each deal with so many heartbreaks, trauma and loss.  

While both their lives had very dark times, this book still felt hopeful and positive.  They were strong women who persisted and created lives for themselves.  The storytelling in this novel was fantastic and I will be looking for more from this author.

Many thanks to NetGalley and MacMillan Audio for an audio review copy in exchange for my honest review.
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TW: Cheating, gaslighting, underage sex, sex workers, missing teen

*****SPOILERS*****
About the book:When Sara Foster runs away from home at sixteen, she leaves behind not only the losses that have shattered her world but the girl she once was, capable of trust and intimacy. Years later, in Los Angeles, she is a sought-after bartender, renowned as much for her brilliant cocktails as for the mystery that clings to her. Across the city, Emilie Dubois is in a holding pattern. In her seventh year and fifth major as an undergraduate, she yearns for the beauty and community her Creole grandparents cultivated but is unable to commit. On a whim, she takes a job arranging flowers at the glamorous restaurant Yerba Buena and embarks on an affair with the married owner.

When Sara catches sight of Emilie one morning at Yerba Buena, their connection is immediate. But the damage both women carry, and the choices they have made, pulls them apart again and again. When Sara's old life catches up to her, upending everything she thought she wanted just as Emilie has finally gained her own sense of purpose, they must decide if their love is more powerful than their pasts.
Release Date: May 31st, 2022
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 304
Rating: ⭐ ⭐

What I Liked:
• The cover was pretty
• I loved her pervious book

What I Didn't Like:
• Plot holes
• The story seemed to drag
• Never felt like it had a purpose
• Characters are unlikeable

Overall Thoughts: So she decides that she is going to have sex with her dad's friend but then backs out and leaves Grant to finish him. Not only is that shitty but then at the new hotel they are working at she tries to convince him to do it again with her for money, even though she saw he was crying his eyes out after the last time. She's such a great friend. Of course she backs out so nothing bad happens to her.

This book feels ridiculous she's 16 and working in a hotel cleaning rooms. But how when you clean the room it's during the day not during the night so how was she able to go clean the room? Then we skip to her and Grant have run away and now they've made their way to LA they happen to find a shelter that takes them in no questions asked or anything even though they are minors. They then find jobs. She gets promoted. And now she's being offered an apartment to overtake a lease but that doesn't make any sense because how could she she's only 16? Also like aren't her parents looking for her? She just disappears and nobody cares. After The disappearance of her girlfriend wouldn't you think she would want to tell her dad at least where she is so he didn't wonder if something happened to her too? So we find out that Chloe a woman that works at the bar is indeed going to let her live in her apartment under her name and she doesn't have to pay the deposit. Like she doesn't even know this girl enough to trust her.

So she couldn't let Grant live with her because he was a man but her brother is okay to live there now? Couldn't she have said that grant was her brother too?

How does a 16 year old manage to pay all her bills on time and the amount needed?

The way Sara has to be alone do she can walk around the business so she could come up with drinks *rolls eyes*

If your looking for this book to be set in reality, you've come to the wrong book. This book suspenses you're reality.

We find out the dad gave her girlfriend drugs and she od'd on them. They throw her in the water but draws a picture to give to Sara to know what happened.

Final Thoughts: Honestly I felt like this book had alot of plot holes, a story that had nothing interesting to it, and a horrible main character. Are we supposed to root for Sara; the girl that left her brother behind instead of waiting 2 years to get him from her abusive drag addicted dad who ditches the person who helped her get away? Or Emilie who continues to sleep with the cook at the restaurant despite knowing he's married and has a family?
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The audiobook as read by Julia Whelan was perfect, tender, and gritty all at the same time. The novel itself....it is equal parts heartbreaking and soul feeding - and damn near perfect. I was drawn to the various calls to Yerba Buena as a plant and metaphor and how it affected all the characters. The romance feels so satisfying and honest while showing how two people can deal with trauma and still make things work. The characters felt fully realized and I could read their stories forever. What a stunning adult debut from Nina LaCour!
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*ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley*

Nina LaCour has an uncanny ability to make me feel things and this book was no different. Yerba Buena follows Sara Foster and Emilie Dubois, two women who cross each other's paths in an almost starcrossed way. Sara is a runaway who leaves behind her tiny town in the wake of tragedy and makes it to LA, where she builds a life as a successful and sought after bartender. 

Emilie grew up in LA steeped in the legacy of her Creole grandparents, but has never felt like she can find her path or purpose. Several majors and far too many years of college later, she's still unsure. She ends up taking a job as a florist which lands her at Yerba Buena, the restaurant Sara works, and where Emilie begins an affair with the owner. 

The two of them continue to cross pathways as they grow from teenagers into young women. They each have incredible growth and Nina LaCour expertly demonstrates these changes. She's truly skillful in the way she intertwines past and present while telling Sara and Emilie's respective stories. 

I could talk all day about Nina LaCour's writing and the way she can make people feel things. Yet it's hard to talk about this book. Not because it's bad, it's excellent. The subject matter is so heavy and she does make some moments so beautiful. The way she captures life's highs and lows is incredible. But there's a lot of lows for Sara and Emilie so I also want to include trigger warnings. 

If you are in a place for a heavy, but beautiful book then I cannot recommend this one enough. There's a strong sense of place and wonderfully intricate queer characters. I loved this book and I hope everyone else does too. When they're in the right headspace to read a book that explores a lot of the bad in life while also showing off the good

4.5 stars

tw: loss of a parent, loss of a loved one, depression, grief, panic attacks, child neglect, parental abuse, sexual assault involving minors, cheating/affair, discussion of drug addiction, death
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𝕐𝕖𝕣𝕓𝕒 𝔹𝕦𝕖𝕟𝕒 ℝ𝕖𝕧𝕚𝕖𝕨 🎧

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 💫

✍️: @nina_lacour 
ℙ𝕦𝕓 𝔻𝕒𝕥𝕖: May 31st 2022
ℙ𝕦𝕓𝕝𝕚𝕤𝕙𝕖𝕣: @flatiron_books 
𝔾𝕖𝕟𝕣𝕖: Literary Fiction 

Thoughts:
This book deserves all the hype — and needs more of it!

I have said it before and I’ll say it again - if you are going to make the atmospheric setting LA I’m gonna to look for nuances (don’t ask me why). Nina Lacour did a great job of describing LA and Yerba Buena, the restaurant of restaurants of course! 

I fell in love with this character driven story that explores two different women’s lives. I love coming of age story’s with depth — AND this book had that! 

Getting to know these female protagonists, who eventually, develop a relationship was beautiful. While, there was a romance element to the book, it didn’t overshadow the story. 

The whole story was stunning, effortless,  and moved at a perfect pace. 

@justjuliawhelan did an amazing job narrating this book! 

Thank you @netgalley @flatiron_books & @macmillan.audio #Netgalley #YerbaBuena #FlatIronBooks
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💔 This is a story that follows the paths of two women in their teens and twenties whose paths keep crossing but circumstances prevent them from initially connecting. It’s heartbreaking and hopeful; full of trauma but full of love and finding your purpose. And while it’s probably the saddest book I’ve read this year, it’s definitely worth the mention because it is so beautifully written. 

❤️‍🩹 For anyone that loves a story about overcoming your past, healing from trauma, and how we all manage those things in different ways, this will pull at your heartstrings then make you grateful you read it.
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This is a gorgeous and engrossing story of two women coming of age and finding themselves. I devoured it.
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Yerba Buena is a brilliant debut into adult fiction, steeped in complex familial relationships and the open wounds of childhood trauma. This slow-burning, character-driven story braids together vivid prose, tenacious hope, and the tender exploration of sexuality. The driving forces of love, acceptance, and resilience are masterfully depicted with youthful LGBT representation. I loved this story, and, for audiobook listeners, it was beautifully narrated by Julia Whelan.
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Thanks to Macmillan Audio for providing me with an advance copy of the audiobook for this amazing novel! 

I adored this story. I have never read any of Nina LaCour before, and I understand this is her first adult fiction (as opposed to YA) and WOW I am glad I got to experience this. 
Both of the main characters are damaged and lost in their own ways, in distinctly different ways. And their characterization I found to be very clear and well done. Recently I have read several multiple-POV novels, and even with two voices, it can be a struggle to see each person clearly. Here, I never had this issue. 

The prose of this is totally beautiful, the perfect amount of detailed, and sentimental without being sappy or overdone. And GAY AS HEELLLL which I love. Damn. It has been a while since I have read a romantic sapphic plotline that doesn't end in utter tragedy (literally can I even think of an example rn??? no).

And specifically in relation to the audiobook production— GIVE JULIA WHELAN A RAISE. She has the BEST audiobook voice I have ever heard, and I'm wondering now if it's a coincidence that all the audiobooks of hers I have listened to have gotten 5 stars... 

Read this! It will make you emotional but it's worth it!!!!
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LaCour has this beautiful, lyrical, raw way of writing about loss and heartache that earned her the Printz award for We Are Okay. Yerba Buena is her adult debut and I loved it even more than her first two❤️📚! It’s an emotional roller coaster, but also a gorgeous rich sapphic story about love and hope. Throw in Julia Whelan with the narration and 🤌 *chef’s kiss.*
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The beginning of this book is a lot, but LaCour handles tough subjects tactfully. TWs for grief, drug addiction, loss, neglect, and sexual assault. 
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Yerba Buena follows the alternate storylines of Emilie and Sara, who are trying to find themselves as adults after traumatic childhoods. Sara turns into a cool highly acclaimed bartender, and Emilie is the girl who is 3 credit hours away from degrees in 5 different majors. While Sara has confidence in her adult work life, her personal life is haunted by the ghosts of her past. Meanwhile, Emilie seems to be a passenger in her own life, never fully steering the boat. Both women are eventually forced to grapple with their pasts and face their futures head on.
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On an aesthetic vibes level, I loved the rich descriptions of flower arrangements, delicious food, mixed drinks, and interior design. This story is heartbreaking but hopeful, with expertly crafted characters. Julia Whelan is my favorite audiobook narrator, and her narration here is beautiful. 
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Yerba Buena left me breathless. I am already missing Emilie and Sara💞. Thank you to @macmillan.audio and @netgalley for this audiobook ARC in exchange for a honest review.
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Yerba Buena - Nina LaCour 
5/5⭐️
Pub Date:  5/31/22
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I've been waiting and anticipating the release of this debut adult fiction novel by Nina LaCour. Thank you to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for the eARC! 

Yerba Buena follows the stories of two girls, separately, Sara and Emilie. There is an element of a romance between the two when they cross paths eventually, but the book is more about struggles they each face in their lives, and how they grow up and grow into themselves, despite their pasts. They are each unique and beautiful characters that are struggling with their own versions of grief, loss, uncertainty in themselves, and how to accept their place in their families. 

This story is beautifully written, and I couldn't put it down. The trauma and grief they each have to deal with really pulled me in. The fact that Emilie found herself working for a florist, and despite being very good at it, wasn't fulfilled by it. She happened upon what would be her life's purpose because she had to deal with a death in her family. This story reminds us, that we have to sometimes go through struggles to find where we're really meant to be. Sara, finding she has to eventually go back home to deal with her past, before she can really move forward. 

Nina LaCour has an incredible ability to write characters that my heart just breaks wide open for. I love her writing and this one did not disappoint. 

4.5 Stars!!!!
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A story of two women finding themselves and, eventually, each other over the span of years. Less a romance (as the characters don't meet until halfway through) and more a journey of self-discovery and grappling with painful pasts. 

It's a challenge to identity what exactly about this book failed to make it really work for me. There were definitely elements I liked: believable chemistry between the mains, nicely flowing prose, and complicated family dynamics that felt well handled if a little under-explored. 

Part of my struggle may have been unique to the audio format, where I sometimes struggled with the dual-POV, both in the sense of the two mains having similar voices and with the story swapping between their teen and adult lives throughout. It might equally have been a matter of pacing and a lack of truly believable character development. While there's definitely growth from the characters, there was a recurring habit (particularly in Sara's case) of traumatic events seeming to serve as stand-ins for actual character development. 

Julia Whelan's narration served the story well, though faltered a little in the character voice department as some dialogue was challenging to make out. This was my first Nina LaCour and while I know it's an adult departure from her usual YA, I'd be curious to see how it compares to her earlier work.
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I've been waiting to read Yerba Buena after loving and reading Nina LaCour's YA books, and it didn't disappoint. Nina writes with so much emotion, that it's hard not to relate to her characters. The intersection of Sarah and Emilie's lives was well done. I found myself relating to both Sarah and Emilie as well as empathizing with their traumas. Their lives are complicated and messy which made for a truly authentic story.

CW: drug use, overdose, sex work, sexual assault of a child, death of a parent

I thought Julia Whelan did an excellent job ensuring the emotions came through for both characters.
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