Cover Image: Yerba Buena

Yerba Buena

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Member Reviews


A story of searching but not knowing what for. Being but not knowing why. Running from the past, and running from yourself.

When her life gets too hard after a tragedy occurs with her best friend and a cryptic drawing by her father, Sara runs away to Las Angeles to find a job and start a new life. Sara becomes a bartender and is known for her wonderful drinks. She has an apartment and is doing okay when she gets a call that her brother is in trouble and needs help. That is when her past catches up with her.

Emilie is a girl from a Creole family who left New Orleans to escape discrimination. She takes a job arranging flowers for a cafe named Yerba Buena. She has an affair with the married owner. When she meets Sara they both know that there is something special between them.

This is the start of a romance between the two. It is complicated and it is off and on, but they know they have something together and can't stay away from each other.

I enjoyed the strength that Sara showed and how she finally understands the drawing her father left thanks to her brother and some friends that explain what really happened to her friend. I think she showed initiative in being so young and in getting a job and supporting herself.

I think that Emilie should have been more supportive of Sara, especially when her father died, but sometimes things aren't as simple as they seem.

I listened to the audio book and the narrator did a fantastic job. The voices of the characters were very well defined. The sound quality was great and I really enjoyed her voice.

This is a romance story that you will enjoy reading. I recommend this book.

Thanks to Nina LaCour for writing a good story, to Julia Whelan for a great job narrating the book , to MacMillan Audio for publishing it and to NetGalley for making it available to me.
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Get your box of tissues and self-care routine prepped and ready, because Nina LaCour is here with another book, ready to break our hearts! I’m a big fan of her YA titles and was excited to see her debut adult book, and despite telling myself to get ready for a rollercoaster of emotions, I was still not ready for this one.

If you’ve read other books by LaCour, you know to expect beautiful, heart-wrenching writing, and that’s exactly what Yerba Buena delivers. Listening to the audiobook was an incredible experience, as I was able to sit back and hear this story like it was being told from another perspective. Instead of reading a physical copy, it felt like watching from far away, which allowed me to appreciate it in a different way.

The story follows two women, Sara and Emilie, as their lives twist and turn and eventually begin to intersect. Sara ran away from home as a teenager but has made a name for herself in LA as a bartender, famous for her signature cocktails. Emilie, who has been in college for seven years, constantly switching majors, leaves a relationship she was having with her married boss in order to ground herself and her life.

The two may seem like an unlikely pair, and the universe has the same idea. Their past’s keep pulling them away from each other, but fate wants them to connect again and again.
I really enjoyed how the story flipped back and forth between the two characters and gave more background and insight about them as individuals. When they came together, their quirks played off one another and we were able to see them together, but also understand their unique differences as well. And of course, all of it tugs on your heart and kicks you right in the feelings.

Yerba Buena was everything I was expecting and explores a beautiful yet difficult relationship between two female characters. I highly recommend it!

Thank you to Macmillan Audio for sending me an audio ARC via NetGalley. Yerba Buena comes out on May 31 ,2022 🌺
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A heartbreaking love story full of grit, loss, learning, and well... love. It doesn't always look like what you think it might. It might not feel like what you think it should. But in the end, it does prevail.

Sara Foster and Emilie DuBois are both no strangers to loss. Sara is from Northern California's rural Russian River and Emilie is from Southern California's Long Beach. Both know what it's like to lose a loved one to substance abuse. Both know what it means to feel lost and helpless. Somehow, their twisted tales lead them to each other. But are they too damaged to accept the happiness they may find in each other?

This debut novel by Nina LaCour is exquisitely written. Haunting and. yearning and breathtaking. I was instantly drawn in by the sheer humanity of it. It's a stunning must-read. 

Julia Whelan is once again magic as the narrator. I saught out this book because she would be reading it to me and I am so glad she brought it to my ears!
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Nina Lacour is an amazing YA author, and with Yerba Buena, she's cemented herself as an excellent writer of adult fiction as well. This literary romance novel is everything I could ask for in a sapphic story, and I found it very relatable. I will recommend it to all of my queer female friends. 
P.S. The narrator of the audiobook was really easy to listen to. The pacing of her voice was perfect too.
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Yerba Buena follows Sara and Emilie as they come in and out of one another's lives, both have pasts that haunt them and they each are trying to grow into their own skin/sense of self.  Sara left home when she was still a teenager after her girlfriend was found dead in the local river and has had to endure many hardships.  Emilie is still haunted by her sister's drug addiction and near death overdose.  The two meet at an indie up and coming restaurant called, Yerba Buena.  This isn't a romance per se and their relationship isn't necessarily the primary focus of the novel.  Instead, the story showcases the journey of each of the women more so than the destination.     

I suppose it is a good that Sara and Emilie's love story wasn't the primary focus because I wasn't invested in their relationship and I couldn't really tell you why they were drawn to one another in the first place. Personally, I prefer my books to have more plot. That being said I can see this one working well for book clubs too as there is plenty to unpack.  I listened to this as an audiobook and would recommend it that way if you are so inclined.  Julia Whelan does an amazing job!  

Special thanks to NetGalley and  Macmillan Audio for my advance listener's copy for the purposes of review.  All opinions are my own.
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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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