Monday, March 15, 2021

Watch Over Me - Nina LaCour

Summary: Mila is used to being alone. Maybe that’s why she said yes to the opportunity: living in this remote place, among the flowers and the fog and the crash of waves far below.

But she hadn’t known about the ghosts.

Newly graduated from high school, Mila has aged out of the foster care system. So when she’s offered a job and a place to stay at a farm on an isolated part of the Northern California Coast, she immediately accepts. Maybe she will finally find a new home, a real home. The farm is a refuge, but also haunted by the past traumas its young residents have come to escape. And Mila’s own terrible memories are starting to rise to the surface.

Watch Over Me is another stunner from Printz Award-Winning author Nina LaCour, whose empathetic, lyrical prose is at the heart of this modern ghost story of resilience and rebirth. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

My Review: I think we first have to start with the obvious—this book has the coolest cover art! When you open it up, it has a corresponding image. It’s awesome. Since I am completely naïve to art and its meanings, I can’t say that this has very much of a connection to the story, except maybe peripherally, but it’s still an awesome cover. I do love good cover art.

Straight up, this book made me super nervous the entire time I read it. There was an ominous and foreboding feeling that was completely pervasive. Did this stop me? No. It meant that I read it in basically one afternoon. It’s not a long book, and it is a really fast and easy read. It is also super compelling and interesting. You can’t help but be worried for what is going to happen.

I’ve thought a lot about why this book felt so ominous. First and foremost, I think it was meant to be this way. We were intentionally supposed to feel nervous and distrusting. As the main character comes from the foster system and has understandably had a rough go of it, she is also distrusting of others and suspicious. Since the story is about her and her journey, we are also swept up in the confusing world of the farm where she lives. And to be fair, it is a weird farm. There are ghosts, there are super nice people who do super confusing things, and it isn’t a normal situation. I actually loved the ghosts in this book. They were involved and creepy but it all makes sense in the end, which is awesome. It’s okay if ghosts don’t make sense, because they’re ghosts and all, but I do also like my stories to make sense at times as well.

The writing in this book is super easy to get into and we can definitely understand the well-developed characters and their motivations.  LaCour does an excellent job of bringing us into their world and playing with our emotions in a most masterful way.

This book has some heavy issues it tackles, since many of the children at the farm came from abusive situations. The back stories are hard to read about, but they weren’t overly shocking nor something an older teen reader couldn’t handle, in my opinion. LaCour does a great job of giving these issues a voice while also giving the victims power over them. The book does a great job of walking the line of addressing serious issues but also making it entertaining and engaging.

Although this book is firmly in the moody older teenage girl/new adult girl genre, I still enjoyed it a lot and read through it really quickly. For such a short book it carried a big impact. As I mentioned earlier, I read it really quickly both had to know and didn’t want to know what happens in the end. It legit made me nervous, yo. I found it a very delightful and spooky distraction from my normal life and regularly scheduled reading.

My Rating: 4 Stars

For the sensitive reader: There is some language and implication of sex. There is some discussion of child abuse.

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