Cover Image: Yerba Buena

Yerba Buena

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Member Reviews

CW: drug addiction (not graphic), deaths of family members and friends, cheating, coerced sexual acts (not graphic). All of these are treated with tact and humanity.
As a Northern California native I love how Nina LaCour incorporates these familiar places to me into her writing and of course this was no exception! I really enjoyed *We Are Okay* by Nina and when I saw she was writing a new book about queer women—and her adult debut no less—I knew I had to read it. And this didn't disappoint!! In a lot of ways, I would say this is better than *We Are Okay*.

The best part of this book for me was how fleshed out and realized these characters were, especially the leads Emilie and Sara. I really really appreciate that the book wasn't wholly focused on their eventual romance—it really focuses on their individual lives and struggles as they go through life before finding each other. And once they do it's just electric!! Just like in her other work Nina is just so good at writing women in love, especially messy and realistic ones.

I had some reservations at the beginning of this because of some strong initial impressions of mature content—which does come with the classification of this as Nina's *adult* debut—but it was a lot to handle at first for me, maybe because I was used to a more young adult version of her work. However, the topics that get brought up in this book, while they can be heavy, are treated with care and do not make up the sum of this book's parts. The book really grows into itself as the characters on the page do.

Overall I felt this was a really beautiful, tender book about family, love, grief, finding yourself (or figuring out how the hell you're supposed to find yourself as you get older), and change. I appreciated the realistic and refreshing look at relationships, where Emilie and Sara's emotional baggage and collective life experiences don't automatically change and fix themselves when they find love—they support each other and choose to stay, to keep going, but they are still human, still dealing with their own traumas and hardships but healing.
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4 deep, heart-wrenching, traumatic stars~

TW: SA, drugs, death

This novel was a very traumatic and dark ride through the lives of Sara and Emilie. It was about friendship, love and loss, and everything in between. There is a semblance of light in all of the darkness that consumes both of them. Their pasts often overwhelm their present, which makes for a tumultuous relationship barely holding together. Most importantly, this novel is about these two women finding themselves in a confusing and chaotic world. 

On the narration: Narration is important for me when it comes to audiobooks - Julia Whelan is an excellent narrator and brings life into books. I have definitely heard this voice before!

Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio for providing an audiobook ARC for review!
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I really enjoyed this book! It was a quick read but also emotional. We start the story with two young women, seemingly on unrelated and very different paths, and then continue to see how their lives and stories begin to run parallel and then intertwine. This made the story unique and kept me interested to see how Emilie and Sara’s separate lives would come together. 

I’m sometimes wary of books labeled literary fiction but this one was great. It had LGBTQ+ relationships, but it wasn’t strictly a romance. It dealt with family, abuse, addiction, fidelity. It had a lot of depth for a quick listen. I also enjoyed the narrator which can make or break an audiobook. 

I thought the references to Yerba buena as a restaurant, a drink, and a plant were just enough and not overdone. I would definitely recommend giving this book a chance when it comes out in May.
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TW: Sexual assault, non-consensual sex, drug addiction, death

I'll be honest - I picked this book because the cover was pretty...I had no idea what the book was about, have not read any of Nina LaCour's books, and did not even know what the genre was...AND I LOVED IT.  

In the beginning, I thought it was a psychological thriller (but with *beautiful prose*) because of how quickly it moved, the number of unanswered questions I had, and *waves hands around, not wanting to give anything away, THE PLOT.*  The exposition felt like a traditional climax, so naturally I was caught off guard a bit.  Then, I wondered if it might be a romance? It certainly has romantic elements, but it doesn't follow the romance formula the way that "traditional romance novels" do.  The prose imprinted on my brain, the longing in my heart, the *angst* - it is clearly literary fiction.  It just happens to also have romance, mystery, and thriller elements.

I loved the sapphic romance and would say the spice level is more "love-making" than explicit smut.  It is not fade to black - you will know what happens but again, it's beautifully written. 

When I got to the end, I immediately went back to the beginning to re-listen to the first few chapters.  I imagine that I will re-visit this book again in its entirety in the near future and it is a definite contender for my diversity-focused book club. 

I recommend this for folks who like books like Normal People, the vanishing half, Mrs. Everything etc.
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Thank you to the publisher and author for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is the first time I've seen this author write an adult novel. Before now, I've absolutely loved her sapphic young adult novels. I was curious to see what she would write and picked this book up without reading the blurb. 

That was my mistake. However, there were also no content warnings at the start of the book, so I'm going to put in here that the main character is put in situations twice in the first quarter of the book where she has to give herself for sexual acts in exchange for money. This wouldn't be a problem in and of itself, as sex work is a choice many go into and enjoy. However it's clear that this character both does not enjoy it and is near enough to underage that it's even more uncomfortable for it. 

For this reason, it's not a book I can rate highly.
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I’m so pleased after being a fan of LaCour’s YA to see her now move into adult as well. This book follows themes LaCour frequents: trauma, sapphic relationships, quiet character studies—and deepens them in a way not quite seen in her YA work. I loved it. This was much darker than I expected and deals with a lot of heavy topics (death of a loved one, drugs, sex work, familial dysfunction). LaCour writes about trauma in a quiet, complex way that really works for me. This book reminded me a lot of her last book, Watch Over Me, though they aren’t similar in plot. Yet, it deals with the lingering, haunting effects of trauma in a less experimental way then the former. So much of this book grapples with how you can move forward with trauma. It was beautifully wrought and I flew through it.
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Y’all this book is absolutely stunning & the audio even better! I am obsessed with Julia Whelan and perusal her narration was flawless! #chefskiss  

💭 Okay, let’s get down to it! First off read the trigger warnings before you decide to pick this one up! This is a heavy read… like HEAVY! I always go in blind, definitely judge a book by it’s cover…and maybe should have read the synopsis before diving into this one! 

Y’all this is such a unique and complicated story about love, loss and hope.  It was quite the slooooooow burn! I will say the flipping of timelines and dual point of view had me confused at times. I was thankful to have the physical copy of the book to pair with the audio! 

Like I said it was a bit slow, and it didn’t all click for me until about 70% of the way in! BUT once I knew what was going on… it all fell into place. I definitely think it’s important to be in a good headspace before starting this one. 

I enjoyed reading about Emilie and Sara’s complicated, complex, beautiful yet messy life stories! Nina is a wonderful story teller!! I would definitely recommend this one to a friend! 

Thank you @flatiron for the beautiful ARC and @netgalley + for the ALC! So thankful to have the opportunity to read / listen and review this story!
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Yerba Buena tells the story of two women Sarah and Emilie who both face traumatic events as teens and how those events shape their lives.  I was drawn in by their powerful and heartbreaking stories in the beginning and the author’s beautiful and lyrical writing style.  As the novel went on, I felt like their trauma and struggles were very different and not on the same level at all in this dual narrative timeline.  

Sarah experiences the unimaginable and runs away from home at 16 while trying to navigate surviving in a cruel world as a teen.  Emilie on the other hand feels neglected by her family because they focus on her sister who has substance abuse issues so she stays in college longer than her parents would like,  jumping from major to major and job to job.  She makes bad decisions and doesn’t take accountability even though she has loving  friends, supportive family and the means to renovate a mansion.  I feel like this really diminished the deep struggles many other characters in the book faced.  There were so many other interesting characters that I wish had a deeper character development.  I feel that would have made for a stronger book.   

I know this was the authors first attempt at a novel for adults and although this book missed the mark for me, I am still giving it three stars because of the the writing style  and I am intrigued enough to explore some of the author’s YA novels.  

Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to   preview this book in exchange for an honest review.
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This book was nothing like I expected and, I struggled a bit with how it was written, with the two POV not in alternate chapters but more in every quarter of the book, with time jumps. But while I struggled, I also enjoyed the way the story of these two women was portrayed. How there are a lot of little elements about both that we get to know little by little. Each is living their own lives, they meet, they separate, they meet again to then get separated again. I could be frustrating because you saw they cared about each other, but love stories aren't always a straight line with no obstacles, right? and this book was exactly like that. Not a line, but swirls, twists, everything. I really liked it!
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This audiobook was intruiging from the very beginning . 
We start the audiobook learning and following two women in their teens  and in their twenties , who are lovers . It is a story of grief but also love and hope. 
I really enjoyed the narrator, Julia Whelan, who is one of my favorite narrators. She also really makes the audiobook . 

Thank you NetGalley for ARC!
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I loved reading about the two main characters, who meet and separate throughout their lives. This is a novel about loss and trauma, but so much more. I really enjoyed learning the characters' backgrounds as well as present day experiences. It was a quick listen and very enjoyable.
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A few days ago I pulled Yerba Buena off the shelf to work into my reading soon.  And then last night at work, I saw it on the @librofm February ALC list and @justjuliawhelan read it to me during grave shift. 
This is a lovely book with beautiful, evocative prose and characters that came to life in no time.  The novel follows two women from their teenage years to their late twenties.  Their chance encounter has them instantly drawn together, but life circumstances initially keep them from moving forward.  I loved reading their backstories, it made for a compelling narrative.  It’s a deceptively simple novel that I won’t soon forget.
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This beautifully haunting tale of love, loss, healing, and hope pulled me in from the very first word. LaCour crested two characters who are perfectly flawed and interesting to the reader. Both women have seen traumas that take a lifetime to recover from, and through this series of meetings and separations over the years, they learn how impactful live can be.

I enjoyed every bit of this book and am so grateful to Netgalley for the ARC
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Yerba Buena is a heartbreaking but beautiful story about trauma, loss but also hope, love and finding your place within the world. 

Nina Lacour’s writing is so simple, so quiet, but oh so emotional and so beautiful. She has the ability to describe something as simple as a cup of coffee and make it dreamlike. 

Such a bittersweet but gorgeous debut adult novel that I would recommend to lovers of nina’s previous books, especially fans of We Are Okay. 

Out on May 31, 2022. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Macmillan Audio for providing me of an audiobook arc in exchange for a honest review.
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Yerba Buena is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. As this is my first book from Nina LaCour, I am dying to dig my teeth into more of her whimsical writing. LaCour's prose is an excruciatingly beautiful homecoming full of the horror and joy of being human. Yerba Beuna introduces Sarah Foster and Emilie Dubois, two-star crossed lovers navigating life with unhealed trauma the best they can, brought together by the good herb. This story investigates what it means to be a flawed human searching for a safe place to land and people to love; it highlights that even if your past is dark, you still deserve all the good things the world has to offer. I recommend all readers check the trigger warnings for this book.
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this book follows two women, throughout their teens and twenties, whose paths keep crossing. the star-crossed lovers vibes is so there, but this book is so much more than that too. this is a book ultimately about trauma and grief, but it is also about love and hope. we get to see these main characters be siblings, we get to see them make mistakes, we get to see them be preyed upon when they were so vulnerable, we get to see them triumph and realize they are deserving of good things no matter how many bad things happened in the past.

this is a hard book to talk about, and it really is filled with so much heartbreak, but it is beautifully crafted and really emphasizes that life is so short and so long at the very same time. and even though we are built on a lot of events that happened to us in the past, we are so much bigger than that. we all heal differently and we all cope differently, and we all keep going differently too. and i am so proud of you for continuing to keep going.

if you feel like you are in the right headspace to read some of these heavy themes and topics, i really recommend this one. and i can't wait to read more by nina lacour now.

trigger and content warnings: loss of a parent, loss of a loved one, depression depiction, grief depiction, talk of overdosing, missing loved one, panic attacks, child neglect, abandonment, parental abuse, sexual assault involving minors for money (brief, but brought up a lot, and very haunting), talk of periods, talk of blood, cheating/affair, divorce, power imbalanced relationship (not main characters together), heavy talk of drug addiction and drugs in general, brief mention of cancer, colorism, hospital settings, death, murder, homophobic family mention (briefly). this book goes into some really dark and intense places - so please use caution!
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Yerba Buena


Yerba Buena is a beautifully written story about Emilie and Sara. I loved the descriptions and how I could really get into Nina’s settings. 

There were some tough parts in this book that covered topics like addiction and sexual abuse. I found myself a couple times having to pause and slowly make my way through it as I took it all in. 

The narration on the audiobook was excellent! Thanks to @netgalley for this ARC of Yerba Buena which comes out this May!
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Beautiful and simple novel. Not usually a fan of contemporary but this one got me hooked right away with the mystery element at the beginning. Love how we spend so much time with the two main characters individually and letting the develop their own journey before pushing the two together. Along that same vain I love how their storylines were completely separate to show how couples don’t need to have their lives dedicated to their partners. The narrator was fantastic I don’t have anything negative to say about the! Such a quick listen I highly recommend for those looking for a simple quick standalone
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This book was not for me. I can appreciate this author and understand why some would enjoy it. I’m just not the typical reader for it.
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i did not finish this book! the beginning chapters, tho well written, were too bleak for me to read in 2022! I'm sure this is a great book but not right for me right now
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