We Are Not Okay by Natalia Gomes
|We Are Not Okay by Natalia Gomes|
|Reviewer: Holly Lewtas|
|Summary: A staggering insight into the minds of young women growing up in a society full of flaws that reflects our own world's faults.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: May 2019|
|Publisher: HQ Young Adult|
Set in a typical American town, We Are Not Okay tells the story of four teenage girls facing the difficulties brought on by high school and growing up as a girl in today's society. The novel is told from four different perspectives, those of Lucy, Ulana, Trina and Sophia, whose friendship statuses vary from BFFs to sworn enemies. The reader is presented with a glimpse into each of their lives, but more importantly their minds, and at times the thoughts of those characters could have been taken directly from my own. Gomes has created a heartbreakingly real and relevant novel that focuses on prominent topic areas which are becoming ingrained in our society, particularly in relation to the Me Too Movement. We Are Not Okay reminds the reader of the importance of phrases like I'm With Her.
The novel covers mature themes, leading to its classification as Young Adult, yet adults of all ages will also enjoy it due to its thought-provoking essence. Some of the topics dealt with are: bullying, teenage pregnancy, suicide, rape, the sharing of indecent images, racism and divorce. Although Gomes has covered all bases, at times the novel is confusing due to the switching of narrators from girl to girl. Each character is complex and isn't faced with the one sole problem in their life, making it even more difficult to follow the plot. Perhaps it would have been better to have a book dedicated to each girl, as opposed to cramming it all into one book and covering topics such as those listed above briefly; Gomes certainly had enough ideas and material for each character for more than a book.
Despite this, the switching perspectives, without giving away too much, allow the reader to see how certain characters are coping both through the specific characters' eyes and from the perspective of other characters, such as when one of the characters' is raped. This is at times difficult to read as you are empathetic to each of the characters yet witness them speaking badly of each other. However, this emphasises to the reader how none of the characters are faultless, a prevalent idea throughout.
Also, when characters are faced with serious situations such as rape, the reader is able to see first-hand how that affects the character, in this instance she blames herself, thinking that it might have been what she was wearing. This highlights how as a society we need to change the way we view the world and pay more attention to the mental health of impressionable young girls. Gomes presents a book that is vital for all women to read, made even more prominent by the relatable aspects and upsetting thoughts that you witness coming from the minds of the characters. The novel details the difficulties faced by younger generations, particularly females. However, Gomes does not make any attempt to glamourise the serious topics discussed. Instead Gomes tells the character's stories in a delicate way. Whilst she sweeps over the details of some of the more serious events, the reader is still able to feel the full effect and emotions surrounding what is happening in the book.
A final point to add is that I did find the ending a bit happy go lucky, because as an adult it seemed unrealistic. However, for a younger audience this is perfect, reminding me of its Young Adult orientation. Although We Are Not Okay has its faults, this is no different to the flawed characters we are presented with, emphasising how nobody is perfect. Gomes has created a novel that will stir up a lot of upsetting emotions, but when you finish the final page you are compelled to pause for thought and note all the good things that you have been blessed with.
For another novel that focuses on the life of a teenage girl at a similar point in her life to those in this novel, which also crosses the boundary between Young Adult and Adult Fiction, I would recommend Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.
You can read more book reviews or buy We Are Not Okay by Natalia Gomes at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy We Are Not Okay by Natalia Gomes at Amazon.com.
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