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Review: Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour

Title: Yerba Buena

Author: Nina LaCour
Year published: 2022
Category: Adult fiction
Pages: 304 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location: (my 2023 Google Reading map)USA (CA)

SummarySara Foster runs away from home at sixteen, leaving behind the girl she once was, capable of trust and intimacy. Years later, in Los Angeles, she is a sought-after bartender, renowned as much for her brilliant cocktails as for the mystery that clings to her. Across the city, Emilie Dubois is in a holding pattern, yearning for the beauty and community her Creole grandparents cultivated but unable to commit. On a whim, she takes a job arranging flowers at the glamorous restaurant Yerba Buena.

The morning Emilie and Sara first meet at Yerba Buena, their connection is immediate. But soon Sara's old life catches up to her, upending everything she thought she wanted, just as Emilie has finally gained her own sense of purpose. Will their love be more powerful than their pasts?

At once exquisite and expansive, astonishing in its humanity and heart, Yerba Buena is a testament to the healing qualities of a shared meal, a perfectly crafted drink, a space we claim for ourselves. Nina LaCour’s adult debut novel is a love story for our time.

Review: I am really working to get through a bunch of the Book of the Month Club books that I have bought (they all look so good that I can't resist getting them, especially since they are hardbacks that are WAY cheaper than usual.). And I have enjoyed LaCour's YA novels (see my reviews for We Are OkayHold Still, and The Disenchantments). This isn't my favorite of hers, but it's pretty good.

The summary makes it seem like this story is all about Emilie and Sara being together, but it's not. It's more about Emilie... and Sara, their separate lives that intersect for a moment, separate, then come together again in the last quarter of the book. Independently, both women have interesting stories, ones I cared about, and wanted to follow to the end. Together they are good and tumultuous.

Really, this novel is a study on how as adults we are affected by our upbringing, the adults that (mostly) treat us badly, family, and old friendships. We see both women struggle to overcome their pasts, embrace them even, and become grown ups who can remember/confront, forgive, and come to love.

Challenges for which this counts:
  • Alphabet (title)--Y

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