Cover Image: Yerba Buena

Yerba Buena

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

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.*
.
The beginning of this book is a lot, but LaCour handles tough subjects tactfully. TWs for grief, drug addiction, loss, neglect, and sexual assault. 
.
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.
.
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. 
.
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.
.
.
Yerba Buena - Nina LaCour 
5/5⭐️
Pub Date:  5/31/22
Was this review helpful?
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!!!!
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
This is such a beautiful story - it's not the usual type of book I would read, and I was surprised by how much I loved it. The characters draw you in immediately, and with all of their flaws, you still want to keep reading and rooting for them. At first I was worried some past items would remain a mystery, but they tied back around in a way that had me flipping back to the beginning and the hints that were dropped. My one complaint? Characters that find their passion which they are perfectly gifted at and becomes the perfect fulfilling career (not just one main character, but both of them!). But these main characters, their motivations, and their relationships with others and each other are what really drive this book. It is absolutely worth the read.
Was this review helpful?
I liked this one, but I didn't love it as much as I had expected to. This is definitely a character driven novel, and unfortunately both Sara and Emilie were written with similar voices (I really had to focus on audio to remember which POV was up at the moment). I thought the pacing was a bit uneven. I did like how both women discover their selves and deal with their garbage throughout the novel. I also enjoyed the trajectory of their lives and their relationship. Maybe if I had read this at another time I would have rated it higher, but at this particular moment, it just fell a bit flat for me overall.
Was this review helpful?
At first I was a bit confused on what was happening in this, but once I got into it and understood a bit more, I enjoyed this book. The characters were interesting and wondering how the mcs work out is what kept me reading and interested. I did enjoy the later parts of the story more than the beginning but overall I would give this 4/5 stars.
Was this review helpful?
Yerba Buena started really dark, and I hate to say for the first two chapters, I was a little confused. However, I was in love with the story of our main characters And their back and forth journey full of come and go, missed connection, and ultimate connection. I also loved how the author went about creating closure scenarios. 

I am however disappointed that there were no content warnings at all, especially with how dark some of the topics discussed were.  Regardless of story or if it’s an “adult” novel, things like assault especially minor assault, and abuse, should be known beforehand.
Was this review helpful?
Yerba Buena focuses on the tumultuous lives of Sarah and Emilie, and subsequently how they tumble in and out of each other’s lives. The characters are rich and genuine, which make it hit even harder when they face trauma after trauma. This book is not for the weak at heart! Content warnings include sexual assault of a minor, death, abandonment, drug abuse, and addiction. This book is for anyone looking for a raw telling of what life throws at us, with a sprinkling of fleeting romance. As an OwnVoices reviewer, I found the LGBTQ representation spot on. The audio narration was lovely and really drew me in. Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio for this copy of Yerba Buena. I plan to review it on my TikTok channel, @alyssamayreads.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed this book considerably more than I thought I would. This isn’t my normal type of read but after seeing other review and receiving an audio copy from NetGalley I had to give it a try. And boy was it worth it. 

This is such an interesting story. It revolves around the lives of Sara and Emilie who have an instant connection when they meet at Yerba Buena, the glamorous restaurant where both of them work - Sara as a bartender, Emilie as the florist. These two may have that instant connection, but it falls apart again and again as both women have damaged pasts that continue to surface. 

It’s so interesting. The audio was fantastic. I’ve read a few books with this general storyline and this one was by far the best of them. I love it. 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Was this review helpful?
This was an interesting story. Two women Sarah and Emilie who come from different places seem to run into each other over the years. 
There are some big struggles in this book for both main characters. Sara is trying to make a place for herself while her past keeps coming into her present. Emilie is figuring out what she wants to do with her life while dealing with some heavy family and personal issues. I liked how Sara approached her past and closing that chapter so she could continue to move forward, it was very sad to finally have the knowledge of what happened to Annie, but it was necessary for Sara since she blocked out a lot of her past. By the end you get a good idea of what the future might have in store for these two and the potential of them staying together. 
I did receive this as an audiobook and found it to be a bit choppy as I felt there wasn’t clear changes or pauses other than a new chapter. I do think I would pick it up as a written version instead. Overall was good.
Was this review helpful?
Nina Lacour has quickly become an auto buy author for me… I need them all on my shelf! This is the second one I have read by the author so far each book is almost a love letter to the California culture and I feel fully immersed.  In Yerba Buena as well as her other books Nina shares modern love which is refreshing and feels relatable. Her characters feel beyond realistic as if they are sitting right next to you at a coffee shop, walking past you on a trail, a conversation with a stranger at the farmers market.  Loved this one and can’t wait to revisit these characters again and again.
Was this review helpful?
The story follows two women: Sara and Emilie. Sara comes from a broken home, and she leaves her home at 16 to make her own life in L.A. Emilie wrestles with her own identity as she tries to please everyone around her. Years later, Sara works for a restaurant, Yerba Buena, as a bartender making from scratch cocktails. This is where she meets Emily who is in her 7th year of her undergraduate program with her 5th declared major. The two become involved. This, however, isn’t a romance read, they don’t meet until 60% into the story. Yerba Buena was a story about finding oneself and finding love at the right time. The writing was very flowy and descriptive. I wish the chapters were a bit shorter. Some were over 35/40 pages.  The book did deal with a lot of intense subjects such as sexual abuse, drug abuse and death. I listened to the audiobook version and enjoyed the narrator. Yerba Buena is an herb with healing properties. Sara and Emilie were Yerba Buena to each other. This was my first Nina LaCour book, and it will not be my last.
Was this review helpful?
I previously read the YA book Watch Over Me by author Nina LaCour, which I thought was okay - it was a departure from my typical read, but I try to attempt fantasy every once in a while!  I was intrigued to read her adult debut, especially with the beautiful cocktail on the cover. Add in narration by Julia Whelan, my favorite audiobook narrator, and I was sold.
Yerba Buena, Spanish for "good herb" and the original name of the settlement which became San Francisco, tells the story of two women whose lives intersect a few times. The story jumps back and forth between the women and different times in their lives. At times I had trouble distinguishing between the two women, and I'm not sure if it was due to the writing, the narration, or even my distraction during my commute to school this week. The book is pretty emotional - especially in the beginning, it’s quite heavy with grief and trauma. Some things which stood out to me were the lovely descriptions of the flowers in the floral arrangements Emilie creates and the creative cocktails Sara crafts, both at the upscale restaurant named Yerba Buena.
Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio for the ALC of Yerba Buena in exchange for my honest opinion. I think I should go back and read a physical or ebook version of this before I can accurately recommend.
Was this review helpful?
i’ve been a nina lacour superfan ever since i read ‘hold still’ as a pre-teen, and her debut adult novel ‘yerba buena’ did not change my superfan status.

the book is a quiet one, following sara after she runs away to los angeles at sixteen and eventually becomes a well-known bartender. we also meet emilie, a seventh year undergrad student looking for the beauty of her creole heritage who on a whim takes a job at a fancy restaurant called yerba buena, and begins an affair with the married owner. when sara catches sight of emilie at yerba buena one day, sparks immediately fly. however, both women carry weight and baggage from their pasts, and the choices they continue to make continuously pull them apart. when the life sara ran away from all those years ago catches up to her, right as emilie has found her own purpose in life, they must decide if their love can overcome everything that came before.

i’ll keep my review short and sweet, but this was a lovely book. with lacour’s lyrical narrative style that i’ve come to love, these two characters really come to life. this book worked really well on audio (julia whelan is once again amazing), as it navigated the stories of the two women side-by-side. highly recommend for a good summer read, one that will leave you thinking.
Was this review helpful?
I was given an Audio ARC of this book and was super excited to read this after it was recommended by a book YouTuber I love and follow. My first initial reaction was thank God for Julia Whelan. I swear I will listen to anything Julia Whelan reads and narrates. There is just something so crisp and clear about her voice and she can voice male characters in a way that is convincing and not distracting. 

I liked that both characters were fully fleshed out but I was wanting more steamy romance from the story. While it was well written and an interesting read, I would've preferred a little less of a traumatic backstory for Sarah's storyline. I got so much of each protagonists' backstory it was a bit jarring for me to see them come together in the end. To me, they didn't quite make sense. Towards the end of the book, and this isn't spoiling anything, there's references to them being apart and coming together several times and I would've liked to see more of this drama unfold between the two of them vs of unearthing their pasts. I would say that if you have triggers related to sexual abuse, I'd probably skip this but it does a good job of avoiding details. 

All in all, I would still recommend this to a friend and found it to be a perfect companion on my recent trip to San Fransisco. It's quick and not a waste of time, but it just wasn't my favorite romance ever.
Was this review helpful?
Um.

So, I’ve never read a book by this author before. I own one, but hadn’t gotten to it yet. Saw this on netgalley and the cover was pretty so… I figured why not!

I requested the ebook and the audiobook. I only received the audio. Which is fine… except I have this bad habit. Well. It’s not bad to me, but sometimes it can work against the book. The habit is that when I listen to an audiobook, I follow along with the ebook. Not completely, not enough to call it reading vs listening, but enough that I think I rely on the ebook. It helps me absorb the book a bit better, whether it’s keeping characters straight, knowing where I am in the book – I don’t know exactly. Sometimes I listen to an audiobook and rarely look at the ebook and its easy to follow along. And sometimes I flip each page in time with the audio. I didn’t have the ebook for this one and I think it would have really helped me. I had a really hard time keeping everyone straight, it wasn’t until halfway that I feel like I had a handle on everyone.

Anyway. The beginning of this book is traumatic AF. All the trigger warnings. Now, that’s not too big a deal for me, I need trigger warnings for certain things but none of the things that happened in this book.  But, consider this the trigger warning for all the things. What sucks is that all of these things happen in the beginning, so it’s before you know the characters, before you can connect or relate to them. So I didn’t really care?

I saw another review that mentioned if one word described this book, it would be whiplash. I agree. The pacing was all over the place – super fast, super slow, skipping forward a few years, then slowly dragging over a few days.

Anyway. I don’t know what I was expecting, and maybe the problem is me (most likely!) or my need for an ebook while listening to an audiobook. Maybe I wasn’t the target audience, maybe I should have read one of her other books first. I know it sounds like I hated it, but I didn’t. The writing was beautiful, I just wish I had connected to it.

Narration: Julia Whelan is the audiobook queen. She was absolutely amazing. I did find it hard to know which POV I was listening to, but again, could be me and my need for the ebook, not Julia.

Netgalley app: y’all need to improve this app. I couldn’t go above a certain speed because it just skipped words. Also, it took me 75 tries to download it.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to Netgalley and Macmillan audio for the early read/listen.  Enjoyed reading about all the characters in this story.  Narrator did a great job telling the story and giving each character their own voice. Will recommend.
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book. I loved the nonlinear storytelling and how the long chapters effectively made you care so much about each of the protagonists. I love that each of their actions is informed by their past experiences and that they each have future goals that they're working towards separately and together. I love the ending and the simplicity of it, I hope that Sara and Emilie stay together for a long time but the acknowledgment that letting someone in could lead to future hurt or even will definitely lead to future hurt doesn't mean you shouldn't let them in at all.  I also can't help but love the symbolism and beauty of yerba buena being so important to both of the characters' lives.

Julia Whelan also did a fantastic job narrating. It really is a testament to their talent that I finished this book the same day that I started it!

Also, I got an audiobook arc of this book on NetGalley but already purchased the book as well! After all green books look the best on bookshelves :)
Was this review helpful?
This book started off pretty dark but there is a lot of light, love and growth by the end. I also wasn't put off by the start at all even though it was a bit heart-breaking. This just enveloped me and comforted me -- I was rooting for the characters but also just wanted to find out what would happen.  It certainly became unputdownable and I know I will re-read this.  I also loved the narrator!

This book was just beautiful and I didn't want it to end.  Yerba Buena comes out next week on May 31, 2022, you can purchase HERE, and I hope you consider reading this one!  

They rode together up the hill. Blur of trees and sky outside, groan of brakes, a current between them. With each curve of the road, the press of one bare shoulder against another, until the bus slowed and stopped. 

The doors folded open, they stepped out to the street. Armstrong Drive dead-ended there--a parking lot, a ranger's station, the entrance to the woods. Sara unzipped her backpack and pulled out a thermos, unscrewed the lid and sipped. Their fingers touched as Annie took it, and Sara watched Annie press her mouth against its metal rim and drink.
Was this review helpful?