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?
What I Thought:
Almost every week I see something online or in the news about the pressures put on young people with social media bullying and I thank the heavens that these things just didn’t exist when I was growing up.
As an older person reading this YA book, I just feel such a sense of rage that young people are dealing with issues such as this when they should be at the best time in their lives.
We Are Not Okay by Natalia Gomes is in part very much like Louise O’Neill’s Asking For It, in that a young girl is raped, but reputation plays a part in her feelings of it being her fault. Alongside this character, Trina, are 3 very different girls who are united (although they often fail to realise it) by their struggles against gossip, school bullying and misuse of social media.
While We Are Not Okay is a book with a definite message, and one which is extremely unpalatable, it is also a book about female relationships, finding support in the most unexpected places and how good things can come from the very worst of circumstances.
The girls in this book are all beautifully written – even at their worst there is something endearing about all of them and although they very often feel that they are alone and helpless, they each show strength and bravery.
Although, as I said, there are elements of tragedy in this book, by the time you’ve finished, there IS hope for the future and a sense that instead of being guided by the thoughts of others, thes girls are forging their own path.
I just love Natalia Gomes’ writing – I was lucky enough to meet her at YALC a while back and grab a copy of Blackbird (released as N. D. Gomes) – she beautifully conveys the thoughts and anxieties of her lead characters and their interactions with each other, and really brings out the essence of being young in a world where your slightest mistake can be edited and posted online within minutes.
This is definitely a powerful novel and – however rage-inducing it may sometimes be – it’s a valuable read for parents as well as teens.
We Are Not Okay is published by HQ.
Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.