Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour

She’d thought her life was on the verge of changing, but it wasn’t. Thought she was a complete person, discovered she was mistaken. The incompletness lingered and expanded until she could barely open her eyes.”

Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour

Yerba Buena is the first novel I’ve read by Nina LaCour, and it’s also her debut novel for adults. I’m so excited to check out some of her YA titles because this novel blew me away. I finished it a few days ago, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. It’s a story that lingers, and it was just so damn beautiful. 

When Sara is sixteen years old, she runs away after the girl that she loved dies tragically. Sara has already lost her mother and now she has lost someone else, and this time she can’t breathe. Can’t move on. Her father isn’t there for her or her brother the way he should be, and Sara doesn’t want to stay in her hometown another moment. She begs her younger brother to come with her, but he refuses. Scared and alone, she knows she has let down the one person counting on her. And through a series of hard decisions, Sara makes her way to Los Angeles. 

Emilie is struggling to find her place in the world. She’s been in undergraduate college for eight years, constantly changing degrees, never sure what she wants to settle on. She’s not living up to the expectations of her parents or herself. But she is trying. 

Eventually, Sara makes a name for herself as a bartender, working with different restaurants to create specialized cocktail menus. And Emilie is currently working for a florist, arranging centerpieces for various restaurants. The two characters meet as their paths cross at the restaurant Yerba Buena. This is a restaurant Emilie has been coming to her whole life, and it’s a place Sara hopes she can continue to define herself in. 

This story is bittersweet, sad (SO sad) but is also utterly gorgeous. At its core there is a beautiful sapphic romance, but I don’t think that’s the main storyline. I think this story is about two young women just trying to figure it out. Trying to find their identities and carve out a future for themselves where they can be happy. 

I think so many people will relate to this book. I find myself still floundering at times with questions of “What am I doing with my life?” And then again, aren’t we all? Some of us have it more figured out than others, but I think it’s important to realize we’re always changing, always evolving and growing, and it’s important to let our dreams and goals change as we do. 

I wholeheartedly loved and adored this novel. There are definitely some trigger warnings, so be cautious in checking those out first if you know certain topics may upset you. If you’ve read a novel by Nina LaCour, please share your favorite. I’m looking forward to reading more of her books.

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