We Are Okay Book Review

Summary: You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…

Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart. 

Thoughts and Themes: I picked this book up because I had a few days left of June and thought oh this is a short book, I can get through it quickly. Do not let the size of this book confuse you though, there is a lot of emotions packed into those pages. I went back and forth with how many stars to give this book as it did make me think about my life and that is usually a five star read but I didn’t love it as much as some of my other five stars. I settled with giving it a 4.5 stars.

I usually write my reviews as I read the book and have the majority of the review done before I get to the end. I do this to avoid spoilers in my reviews and so that I write my immediate thoughts, not the ones that happen after I let the book marinate in my head a little. This one was different though as I jotted my notes down but didn’t put it into a review until the day after reading the book. I did this intentionally though as I had a lot of personal things that this book brought up for me that I needed to process.

This book brings up the process of grief alongside feelings of betrayal. I thought that this book did a good job in addressing the many ways that grief appears for people and how everyone processes their grief differently. I really enjoyed how Marin processed everything or chose not to process the grief and how she pushed everyone around her away. I thought that it was great to see how she struggled with the feelings of betrayal from her grandfather and how she reconciled some feelings of guilt while grieving.

Something else that I thought this book did well and that really got to me was the depiction of the relationship between Marin and Mabel. I liked how we see the past version of the two of them and how they slowly became strangers to each other. I thought it was important to see how Marin’s losses changed her and how those changes made it so that the relationship these two had changed. I connected with the ways in which they had to find new ways to define their feelings for each other and what they now meant to each other.

Characters: Each character that you are introduced to throughout this story is lovable even if you only see them for a couple of pages. I love the development that you see Marin go through from the start of the book all the way to the end. I think the growth of her character was good to show and how “okay” for Marin might not be everyone’s definition of that word.

You can clearly see how each character is feeling throughout the story and you understand why they feel certain ways. I like how you can see the characters develop relationships with each other or forge new relationships that may not have been there before.

Writing Style: This story is told through the perspective of Marin but it goes back and forth from the present to the past. This allows you to see how Marin got to where she is now and her thoughts behind fleeing her home. I thought this was a good way to get the whole picture of this story without it being through Marin telling someone else her past.

I like how the pacing of this book is constant throughout the whole story and it never really picks up. I like the slow pacing of the book and how you can easily follow along.

You can get this book at Eso Won Books or look for it at your local library.

Panorama by Ross Victory Book Review

Goodreads Summary: After enduring a severe panic attack which left the author attached to breathing machines around foreign doctors in South Korea, Panorama–the bonus chapter for the memoir, Views from the Cockpit: The Journey of a Son, expands on the author’s experiences working and living abroad in Seoul, South Korea.

After a friendship ignites and morphs into an awe-struck, curious tale of parallel souls with a Brazilian-American soldier serving in the military at the North Korean border protecting South Korea from Kim Jong-il, Panorama reflects on the author’s contemplations to return to a crumbling family life in Los Angeles or to endure his life in Seoul for an end-of-contract cash payout.

In Panorama, the author broadens his stance on the importance of moments spotlighting loneliness and exposing the perks and ailments of escapism. With precise prose and a thought-provoking connected storyline that covers eating living octopus, philosophical debates about the gender of God, and a surprise pregnancy, Panorama, stands tall as a connected yet separate, compelling story. The author reminds us again, that as daunting as the vicissitudes of life, and no matter the view from the cockpit of life, the human spirit cannot be restrained in loss, or love, and strives to be unbroken–and free

Thoughts: Thank you to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for my review.

I think its always great to read memoirs written by people you know and not just famous people you admire. I love how you get to know the person on a deeper level and learn intimate parts of their lives. This was a book that I couldn’t put down once I started reading it.

You know how writing can be a form of therapy for people, this book feels like thats exactly what it was for the author. That was something that I really liked about this book as you can see as the author processes each scene and different events of his life. I like that you can feel a sense of relief at the close of each chapter and there’s a transition to a new event or moment in his life.

Something else I really enjoy about this book is how each chapter gives me a different scene. Each chapter slowly brings me through Ross’s time in Korea as if you are watching this play out in real time. I love the banter between the people who are in the story and the humor that is included throughout the book.

I love the love story that it opens with where its as if nothing can go wrong. I really enjoyed reading the relationship that Ross has with Alvi and seeing how that develops and changes. I love the vulnerability that you get from both of these men in the text messages that they exchange with each other.

I feel that society has not allowed Black men to show a range of emotions much less fear and sadness. Even more so feelings that they have towards each other that are complex and have so much history to their actions towards each other. Because of this I found that the scenes in which these two Black men are real and vulnerable with each other are powerful.

I think it was interesting to read the perspective of someone who is Black, bisexual male. I thought it was interesting to read what Ross’s thought about his sexuality were when he first realized he was bisexual and how he felt being in the middle.

Something that i found unique about this book was the explanation of the author’s views at the end. This book transitions from being a snipit of the author’s life into a series of essays on gender, sexuality, race and the intersections between them. If you aren’t interested in those portions though you can skip them and still get a good experience from the book.

I thought that was a great and interesting way to close as it leaves you thinking about sexuality and the intersection of sexuality, gender and race. While I did like the way that it closed I do think that it is something that you have to sit with and maybe read more than once to really understand what he is saying.

As I read the end I thought about how when I identified as female and came out as bisexual at 13 it was fine not just for me but also for others who I came out to. Then when I came to the realization that I’m a trans boy and non binary, I felt that the label was no longer okay for me. I shuffled through trying to find other terms or shift my sexuality somehow because I knew a bisexual boy was not something society was okay with. It wasn’t until this year when I really decided that I’m bisexual and was okay with that label again.

You can get this book on Amazon starting June 21st, you can also get his first book Views from the Cockpit: The Journey of a Son from Eso Won Books.