We Are Not Okay – Natalia Gomez
When I was at school it felt like there were children’s books and there were adult books and nothing in between. I think teenage years at my school would have been so much easier to navigate if more books like this had existed. This was a pretty hard hitting book about several girls in the same year at school and how they interact with each other. It reminded me a lot of The Burning by Laura Bates which I read earlier this year and like that book, I feel like this needs to come with trigger warnings.
This features slut shaming, rape, assault, revenge porn, cyberbullying, substance abuse, racism, suicide and talk of abortion. So you know, if any of those things are hard for you be aware before reading. Ok then – house keeping over, let’s tell you a little bit more about We Are Not Okay.
If only they could have spoken out.
Lucy thinks she’s better than the other girls.
Maybe if she’s pointing fingers at everyone else, no one will see the secret she’s hiding.
Ulana comes from a conservative Muslim family where reputation is everything. One rumour –
true or false – can destroy futures.
Trina likes to party. She’s kissed a lot of boys. She’s even shown her red bra to one. But she didn’t consent to that
night at Lucy’s party. So why doesn’t anyone believe
Sophia loved her boyfriend. She did anything for him, even send him photos of herself. So why is she the one being pointed at in the hallways, laughed at, spat at when it was him who betrayed her trust?
The first thing I loved about this book was that there was a playlist at the beginning for you to enjoy while reading. Idk about you, but I am someone that loves to listen to music when I read and really immerse myself in the lives of these characters. The music choices really helped set the mood for this story, so if you have the opportunity, do try and read it while listening to them. They’re all pretty good too. So that’s also a plus!
Another plus for me was the fact that one of our narrators is muslim – I’ve been trying really hard to read more books with narrators who are POC or you know, not white. Ulana was a really interesting character too and was probably my favourite of the girls purely because she spoke the most sense.
Anyway, playlists and narrators aside, this is one of those books that makes me super happy that social media wasn’t a thing when I was at school. Yes. I am that old. Natalia Gomes manages to weave together these girls’ voices and their stories while also maintaining their individual personalities. She deftly explores all the usual fears that I remember from my teenage years while including all those extra intricacies of being a kid and all this going on while social media and cyber bullying is happening.
Sophia, Ulana, Lucy and Trina are all well rounded and even when they’re being awful about each other you kind of understand their motives. It’s heartbreaking in places, irritating in places and sweet in places with just about every other emotion in between.
While I was given an ARC of this, I did my usual thing of leaving it lying around for ages so this is out now. Soz.