Cover Image: Yerba Buena

Yerba Buena

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Member Reviews

A very sweet and queer love story- honestly I highly highly highly recommend it. It was a breath of fresh air for all the queer kids who just want something happy
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As much as I love and adore Nina LaCour's writing this one did not hit home as much as her other books I have read. It was very much a character study of these two women and their life journeys and where they intersected into each others lives. Although, this is soemthing that can make me feel extremely for the characters at other times it just feels meloncholy. This one just didn't quite hit me the way it could've. Writing was gorgeous though as always from this author.
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This was one of the best books I've read this year!  The characters were so fresh and interesting.  We need more queer fiction that isn't about education but just entertaining us with gay characters.  I thought the story itself was great but I was definitely disappointed with the lack of the love story,  more like 2 separate and entertaining stories but the romance is pretty much non existent.  

I do recommend
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The descriptions in this book were amazing! Truly a book for all of your senses. As for the plot, I really enjoyed it. I really get for the main characters, I wanted what was best for them. A deeply moving book.
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A stunning entry into the adult literary sphere by Nina LaCour, reminiscent of Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Two storylines--one of Sara, a runaway at 16 escaping a place and family and trauma, and one of Emilie, stuck wheels spinning, trying to find where she belongs--intersect like a kiss, with grace, longing, tension, and the pain of knocked teeth.

The title, Yerba Buena, is a thread with which LaCour delicately seams the story, but each time it appears is powerful. 

Come for the years' long slow-burn, stay for the incredible immersion into the lives of multiple distinctly voiced characters. It's a beautifully tender and tension-filled contemporary/literary novel with a gorgeous sapphic romance intertwined. 

Bonus: The book has made me want to become a florist.
--Samantha Zaboski, Novel Editor
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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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Loved this so much. The characters are so special and their relationship was beautiful. It was a special read, reminded me of Sally Rooney.
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What a fantastic book!  This lush and lyrical queer love story gave me such joy and hope that when I was finished, I went right back and read it again. I loved YERBA BUENA and had a wonderful time interviewing Nina LaCour for Episode 95 of my Top Shelf at Merrick Library Podcast Buena is such a special book!
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This was the first book of Nina's that I've actually read so I went in not knowing quite what to expect. I will say that it took me a little while to get into it and I found myself frightened almost immediately about where the story was going. As the story built up, my fear lessened and I let myself be taken along for a ride. The characters were realistic and I never quite inew where the story was going to go so I liked that.
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Wow, this book was so stunning.

Fair warning - it’s a character-driven book, which is not my normal style, but I loved it. This story was so descriptive, and beautiful. It’s so real and raw. Both of our MCs have been through so much, and the way the story weaves their individual journeys together was so surreal. 

This is a coming-of-age, self discovery story. The pacing is slow, but it’s worth it in the end. Don’t expect heavy romance, this is literary fiction in my opinion. Heavy on family dynamics and personal growth.

I would highly recommend the audiobook version. Julia Whelan is a queen.
Please check the triggers on this before reading, there’s a lot.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC. Yerba Buena is out now!
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Thank you to net galley for my advanced copy of the book. I tremendously enjoyed listening to this novel. I loved the descriptions of the food and drinks. The characters were well developed and very relatable. I highly recommend this beautiful story.
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I received an ALC of this from via @Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Published May 31, 2022, this book is out and ready for you to grab!

I have wanted to post my review of this beautiful book since I finished it, but I do not know if I can do it justice. The cover, the characters, the story progression - all of it was just so fantastic. Nina LaCour takes two separate story lines and weaves them together with such beauty and perfection, I was left in awe when finishing this book. The narrator, Julia Whelan, is one of my favorite audiobook narrators and she does such an amazing job bringing this beautiful story to life.

In one story line, we follow Sara Foster who runs away from home at 16 to go to LA. Years later, Sara is a sought after bartender, known for her fabulous cocktails and delicious combinations.

In the second story, we follow Emilie Dubois, who is in her sixth year of school and on her fifth major. She is known for being spontaneous and one day, spontaneously takes a job at a floral shop. This leads her to arranging flowers at Yerba Buena, one of the hottest restaurants in town. Emilie slowly falls for the owner, starting an affair.

The stories collide when Sara meets Emilie while giving a class to the bartenders. She is immediately drawn to her, as Emilie is to her. The timing is off, though. Eventually, the timing is right, for a short period, until Sara’s past comes back and threatens to tear them apart before they can completely come together.

Both stories alone are beautiful and would be a complete, fantastic novel. The way they are brought together brings more to this whole story. Sara and Emilie are immediately captivating as characters, but so are the more minor characters. Everyone is so believable, so real. This story plays out in both expected and unexpected ways. The writing is lyrical and beautiful without seeming over the top. I hated it ending - I wanted so much more. Not because it wasn’t finished, just because I didn’t want it to stop.
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*received for free from netgalley for honest review* this was a very different book from most i've read, i wouldn't' mind rereading this book in the future.
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Yerba Buena was totally not what I expected.  I thought it was going to be a fluffy, feel good novel, but it was one that truly touched your heart in the best and worst way at times.  I felt for Sara and her trauma, and was always rooting for her at every stage in her life.  I think I would have appreciated the novel more if I had known how gut-wrenching it was going into it, because it truly took me by surprise how heartbreaking it was.  The writing was perfection, and I would undoubtedly pick up a novel by this author again in the future.  I truly enjoy the narration as well!

Thank you to Netgalley and Macmillan Audio for an ARC of this title.
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I enjoyed this book very much and while I would not recommend it to a person who want a traditional romance with the genres well tread tropes, I would recommend it to someone who likes to explore complex characters who find love in their lives.
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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! I received both the e-ARC and the audiobook and loved both of them!
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I would listen to Julia Whelan's grocery list. I wish she could narrate my life. A full star JUST for that narration. I do think I would have liked this one more/it would have been more impactful if I had read it instead of listened to it. Emily and Sarah have a beautiful relationship and I loved learning about their back stories.
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I finished Yerba Buena a couple weeks ago and still am trying to figure out my thoughts about it. It started out really strong and I thought I was going to love it. But as it went on, Sara and Emilie’s voices started to blend together and I had trouble distinguishing who’s story was being told in the moment. I listened to this on audio, and while the narrator was fantastic, I think I would have enjoyed this one more in print. Overall, I think this was a good story, but it isn’t one that will stick with me.
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I absolutely loved this audio! I loved that the story focused on two women, leading different lives, and the story about how their lives eventually intersect. It was definitely a slow burn but one that captivated me from the beginning.
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📝 detached, understated yet emotional writing
🏃‍♀️ character-driven
👥 multi-pov (Sarah & Emily)
🏳️‍🌈 LGBTQIA+ representation
👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 explores family dynamics 
🚺 + the female experience
💊 + the impact of substance use & dealing
🍹 bartender vibes
🫀 complex, intense love stories
🖤 themes of grief, loss, & betrayal
🌱 coming-of-age vibes
🥹 heart-wrenching & heart-warming
🪞 reflective
🎧 great on audio 
⚠️ LOTS of tw for this one!! DM me!
⚖️ felt that the multi-pov chunks were too long - prefer multi-pov that switches between narrators more regularly 
🔗 connection to the characters could have been stronger but I sometimes enjoy a detached style like this!
VERDICT: an understated yet emotional literary coming-of-age novel exploring LGBTQIA+ love, family dynamics, & trauma/grief that will leave you reflecting on life!
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