Sunday, September 27, 2020

Book Review: "Watch Over Me" by Nina LaCour

Watch Over Me, Nina LaCour's new novel, is gorgeously lyrical and powerfully moving.

Mila has aged out of the foster care system, so she’s excited when she’s chosen for a teaching job on a farm on the Northern California coast. The couple who own the farm have been fostering children for years and are renowned for their efforts, so this is a real opportunity for Mila.

She is immediately blown away by the beauty and the solitude, and quickly connects with her student and the others on the farm. She longs to be part of a family again, to belong, to be wanted. Like anyone who has experienced the foster care system, she is wary of making mistakes, of doing something that might cause someone not to want her or like her any longer.

But the farm is also a haven for ghosts. While the ghosts mean no harm, they do provoke memories, and Mila starts to become increasingly haunted by the memories she has tried to leave behind. There are secrets few if any know, and as much as she tries to help her student deal with his own memories, she isn't ready to confront hers.

Watch Over Me is such a beautiful story of the toll grief can take on us and how it feels to be set free from it. It’s also a story about the family we choose and how powerful it can be to feel we belong, when we connect with others without guise or guile.

LaCour is one of my absolute favorite YA authors. There’s so much emotion and poetry in her writing, and she never fails to move me. Books like Hold Still, We Are Okay, and You Know Me Well, which she wrote with David Levithan (another favorite of mine), demonstrate her immense talent.

This book is a little more fantastical than some of her others, and at times I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but I loved it all the same. Read this, and read her.

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