Cover Image: Yerba Buena

Yerba Buena

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Member Reviews

This book is definitely a top ten of the year for me already, what a wonderfully thoughtful, heartbreaking but hopeful, and even elegant love story.  Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour is done justice as an audiobook by the wonderfully talented Julia Whelan.  I could not stop listening to this book and finished it in one day and I have that book hangover feeling that readers talk about when deeply moved by a narrative and/or characters.  I am so grateful to Macmillan Audio and NetGalley for the chance to listen to this audiobook.

3 strong parts of the book
1.  Outstanding character development highlighted by strong voice narration.  The stories of Emily and Sarah as separate individuals intersecting was so powerful, I loved how rich and developed each character was as a person.  Their stories were filled with sadness and even trauma and yet also with resilience, with them finding their talents and passions as individuals, of richness of friends and family and self.

2.  The celebration of all kinds of love, queer relationships, siblings, friends... it's a wonderful story of how relationships can lift up people and keep them grounded.    

3.  Nuanced pacing.  This is a character driven story and it is filled with richness of setting, wonderful reflections on finding ways to not start over but persist (there was a lovely line about this idea), and a bit of a slow burn plot as characters live their lives, people come and go and come back or don't and characters make mistakes ... it's very real.

I can't recommend this book enough and I hope it brings happiness to many other readers.  I have to saw that if you loved The People We Keep last year then you must read/listen to Yerba Buena this year (Julia Whelan narrated that one last year as well!)
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This book is a magical love story and a testament to perseverance and trust in others.  Yerba Buena is a full circle story of two women who have to endure cruel and heartbreaking things in their youth and family lives.  They meet and have sparks ignite their attraction.  Timing and events intertwine to cause mistrust of feelings but the love is strong.  Along the framework of this story, many vibrant Literal descriptions of scenery and cooking and cocktails draw you in as a curiosity that keeps your reading. I found this book to be very enjoyable and inspiring in many different ways.  The story so genuine, I would read it again.  The characters are all well developed and important to the whole picture.

It will do you good to treat yourself to this novel!  I highly recommend reading.
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Yerba Buena is a beautiful book. It is about two young women navigating life in California. Based on the cover, I thought this book was going to be light and airy, and it wasn’t. It was heartbreaking and gritty and powerful. These two young women had so many trials and trauma in their lives, but they were strong and kept moving.

The story started off following Sara in her hometown near the Russian River. A tragedy occurs and she has to face near impossible choices. I was so intrigued and hooked by her story line right away.

Then the story switches over to Emilie and it took me a little longer to settle into her life, but ultimately, I rooted for her just as much. I loved where her journey took her.

The sense of place in this book was very strong and I think the settings were just as important as the characters. I loved how beautifully written this book was.

This book features multiple LGBTQIA characters and I thought they were all incredibly written. 

I listened to the audio and I think this book might be better in print, only because I found it a little hard at first to follow which chapter was about which woman at first, but once I got into the story, it wasn’t a problem.

I received an audioARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. All of the views are my own.
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Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour covers the years in that space between youth and adulthood for the main characters Sara Foster and Emilie Dubois. The story follows both queer women as they come into their own, find themselves, and find love. 

The story also touches on the strain that addiction puts on families and how hard it can be to stay clean and rebuild a life. Both Sara and Emilie having loved ones afflicted by drug addiction.
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Yerba Buena is a medium paced literary fiction with a sprinkling of mystery and a lot of real life. I was initially attracted to it by the stunning cover and a title that resonated with me, but the summary really sold it for me. I love reading explorations of people’s histories and relationships, so this seemed like it was right up my alley. I was not disappointed. 

This story follows Emilie and Sara in dual POVs as we learn about the life they’ve lived up until the point of meeting each other. Their stories are unflinching, dark, and brutal. Truly an exploration of surviving trauma. And as we come to understand what they’ve been through, we can also see the potential difficulties they’ll have in a relationship, yet you can’t help rooting for them all the same.

A well-done look at trauma and it’s effects on relationships. I’m glad I listened to this audiobook and would consider reading/listening to more of this author’s writing in the future. 

As for the narration of the audiobook, I thought it was well done, smooth, and easy to follow. I did speed up the pacing to 1.75x but I find that I generally like to listen to them faster than most people.
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Could Yerba Buena be my favourite romance of the year? There was so much about it that I loved and I know it will stay with me! I have found that I appreciate romances where there are deeper themes and we gain a lot of insight into the characters' backgrounds. That was certainly the case in Yerba Buena.

Both Sara and Emilie, who we follow from when they are teenagers into their late twenties, have family members who have dealt with addiction, which is a significant theme throughout the novel. I thought that Nina LaCour did a fantastic job at showing the ripple effects that addiction has within a family. 

The dual POVs really worked, though the timelines could be confusing at times. I would say that this is a love story but not a romance. Do not expect the romance to be at the forefront. 

There was something powerful about the ending. It felt so real to me! I thought that Sara and Emilie had a deep and true connection, but they are human and they are flawed. I was moved by it, to be honest. 

Yerba Buena is Nina LaCour's first adult novel, and I cannot wait to read more from her in the future!
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Yerba Buena wasn't exactly what I was expecting. I was ready for a more traditional romance but this is more of a book about two women living life and then they happen to date eventually. That being said if you are interested in a slow introspective book about trauma and relationships(family, friends, and romantic) this book was great.
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What a beautiful and poetic story. Julia Whelan's narration is perfect and really helps to bring the fantastic story to life. This is a slow modern queer romance. The story intertwines the lives of a few characters and they move in and out of each other's lives and just has a realistic feel to it. I really enjoyed this book.
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What a poetic piece of work. I devoured this audiobook in a couple of days, and that wasn't solely due to my love of Julia Whelan's narration. 

This is a queer story of a modern day romance between an acclaimed bartender and a woman who is dealing with the implications of the slow decline of a family member's health. At times, Yerba Buena is a frustrating read but in the most realistic way possible. The author never allows her characters to stray from their flaws and that truly reads beautifully. 

I loved this.
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Nina LaCour's debut into the adult realm of fiction can only be described as masterful. This book was everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. Two side-by-side storylines playing out over a great distance but with such intention and grace is what made this book so special. When Sarah and Emily finally come together, the feeling of rightness is simply overwhelming. 

I loved this gorgeous book with my entire heart. The audiobook narrator did a phenomenal job.
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This one is read by Julia Whelan which made it an automatic listen for me.  While I love and adore Ms. Whelan I think this is the first time I may have regretted listening to one of her narrations versus reading the book on the page.  The reason for this is with one narrator I kept finding myself confused between the two main characters.  I wish the book had been done with two narrators to help with this.  

As far as the story goes it was a captivating tale of two women whose paths collide and have an immediate attraction.  Both women have complex pasts that make this attraction more complicated as they try to move forward in life with the baggage from their past.

Sara ran away from home as a teenager and left behind her entire life.  She made sacrifices to get where she is today, a successful, sought after bartender/consultant.

Emilie is a girl who doesn't exactly know what she wants from life. Having changed majors several times without every actually finishing a degree she is struggling to find her place.

The push and pull of the two women as they try to find themselves while trying to make room for the other made for an interesting read.  Both were complex characters with trauma in their past that made for an emotional and enjoyable read.

“So this was how it felt—to be dealt a blow, to pause, to keep going in spite of it. Not to start over but to continue.”
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“it gutted her, how easy she was to let go.”

yerba buena tells the stories of two women. sara, who runs away from her northern california small town at the age of sixteen after a tragedy. and emilie, in her mid twenties and still in her undergrad, trying to find her place amidst the illicit affairs she keeps finding herself in. their paths cross in yerba buena, a restaurant where sara is brought in as a consulting bartender and emilie arranges flowers. but after this crossing, years pass before these women find each other again.

when i say yerba buena is the story of these two women, i mean it is each their individual stories. so much of the book is about their individual journeys—sara from northern california to LA and back again, leaving her brother and finding him again, her coming to terms with the price she paid to run away. emilie as she goes through major and job changes to finding her passion, her relationship with her addict sister, and her creole heritage. it is a character study, an exploration of how these women become who they are. it looks at how their pasts shape them, who they are and who they will grow to be.

this is now my fifth nina lacour book, and i have come to recognize her voice. it didn’t surprise me how well she transitioned into telling an adult story. but somehow i didn’t expect /this/ story. at the same time it was so so so very nina. i could tell it was hers. it takes the same feelings you find in her other books—grief and longing and fear and being haunted—but takes it past adolescence. because these feelings don’t go away. and they live in us in different ways. now with two main characters, nina shows us these differences side by side.

one of my favorite things about yerba buena is it’s los angeles setting. this city is my home. too often i read about it incorrectly, written by someone who has never called the city home. there was so much familiarity of LA in this, and it felt so comforting to read it in such a perfect, but haunting, way.
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With understated and emotive prose, Nina Lacour takes us on a journey with two women, star-crossed lovers and each dealing with so much pain and self discovery. The topics unpacked in this novel are difficult and dark, from sex work, sexual abuse, and exploitation to the exploration of queer identity. The lives of these two women are very different, but each brings her own baggage and perspective to their unique connection. 

I really loved the decision to follow our main characters for a decade. Going from their teens into their twenties issues like family and identity fluxute in a person’s mind. Love and acceptance, vulnerability, it’s complicated and our perspective of those things, change as we change and grow. Nina Lacour did a lovely job of showing that struggle and transition.

What a wonderful introduction to her writing!
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How gorgeous a book that breaks your heart without being annoyingly hokey about it. We root for the two main characters to get together, in spite of everything, which is a satisfying romance. But we also see them as people with desires and trauma and family and ambition beyond that. It's a refreshing read. My only regret is that I listened to the audiobook — which was gorgeous in itself — when I feel like I should have gotten a hard copy so I could underline all the beautiful sentences. It's a delight to see Nina LaCour depart from YA for a moment so she can Go There with difficult subjects without surrendering any of her heart. 

Thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for the free copy in exchange for an honest review!
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Don’t you love it when you finish a book so captivating and beautiful and lush and gorgeous and…and you discover the author has more books?

YERBA BUENA is Nina LaCour's first foray into adult fiction. That’s all I knew about the author – at least until I finished the book and looked her up. I don’t read much young adult fiction, but I tell you what: I’m about to. 

Yes. YERBA BUENA is that good. LaCour is the award-winning writer of several young adult novels – every one of which is now on my ‘to read’ list. But back to YERBA BUENA.

Sara Foster and Emilie Dubois are each trying to transform a troubled past into something better.

Emilie is trying to decide what to do with her life. She’s spent 7 years in college and all she has to show for it are 5 (incomplete) majors – none of which have anything to do with the floral arranging job she ends up taking at a local restaurant. The restaurant is Yerba Buena – an elegant eatery with a very attractive - and very married - owner.

Emilie’s family used to be close, but her grandparents were the glue that kept the family together. When they’re gone, Emilie inherits the house and decides she’s going to bring it back to its former glory.

Sara grew up in a dysfunctional household where one parent was a drug dealer, the other an addict. Her mother finally gets clean, but not before wrecking her body; Sarah is 12 when her mom dies. With her mother gone, Sara’s friend Annie becomes everything to her. Everything. A few years after she loses her mother, though, Annie’s body is found floating in the river and Sara can’t stay in that place a minute longer. She and a friend, both teenagers, run away together toward a better future.

Fast forward several years and Sara is one of the hottest bartenders in L.A, known for her hand-crafted infusions, syrups, shrubs, and cocktails she designs based on what can only be described as a kind of atmospheric chemistry. Her home base: Yerba Buena.

One morning, Emilie is at the restaurant, arranging the flowers for that evening. Sara happens to go in early for cocktail chemistry.

The two meet and the electricity is palpable.

This is in part a love story, but it’s so much more than that. It’s about connection, family, discovery, healing, transformation, and finding home.

The icing on the cake: the audio version is narrated by the incomparable Julia Whelan.

Many thanks to #netgalley - who provided me with an ALC in exchange for an honest review.
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audiobooks so the experience was probably really different than if I had read the paper copy. 

This novel tells the stories of Sara and Emilie over the course of their teens and 20s. Their backgrounds and family situations are fairly different yet they both experience trauma and challenges that threaten to define their lives. 

Their paths cross in Los Angeles and they experience an immediate connection. Their romance is a sweet counterpoint to the difficult experiences and feelings they need to sort through in order to feel able to embark on a meaningful relationship. 

The character’s arcs felt natural to me, life really isn’t a straight path and Lacour shows Sara and Emilie as the move forward, step back, trying to make futures for themselves while reckoning with the past and their ideas about themselves.

The strongest feature of the book IMO is how the author conjures vivid colors, scents, tastes and exterior scenes. Really well done.
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Will not be reading this book this month unfortunately. 
This rating is not a reflection of the work but rather of the fact that other books are more of a priority on my TBR.
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LaCour has written another stunner filled with absolutely gorgeous and evocative prose. I completely lost myself in this book--in the best way. I would recommend this to just about anyone.
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I wanted to like this book more but couldn’t. It was just a little too slowly paced and meandering for me at the beginning, and I couldn’t get past that. The narration in the audiobook was excellent, and I felt absorbed into a part of Northern California I’m not too familiar with even as a local.
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This is what I would dub a "quiet" romance. (If you must categorize it as a romance, ahem- Goodreads)

Yerba Buena follows two women, Emilie and Sara from their teens into adulthood. Emilie is struggling to find her path- still pursuing her undergrad, having rotated through multiple majors while Sara is still grappling with her rough childhood/adolescence. 

They both meet through the restaurant that Sara is a bartender at, and Emilie is doing the flower arrangements. The build up to their relationship is SLOW, and I mean slow, with lots of hiccups and miscommunication. So if you're expecting a typical romance book, this one isn't for you. This book is more about the journey of the two women finding their footing and passions, and then eventually coming together as their best true selves. 

Overall I enjoyed the audiobook, but feel like having two separate narrators for each MC would have elevated the experience a little more for me. This is very much a slow burn and there's not much tension or romantic scenes, and I think it's important that readers set their expectations in that aspect before reading!
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