Book Reviews

Review: Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour

Nina LaCour is an author who I’ve never read before – even though I wanted to. I’ve heard about We Are Okay, and while I started have never finished. So when I saw the audiobook of Yerba Buena, I knew I had to listen! Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


When Sara Foster runs away from home at sixteen, she leaves behind not only the losses that have shattered her world but 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. In her seventh year and fifth major as an undergraduate, she yearns for the beauty and community her Creole grandparents cultivated but is unable to commit. On a whim, she takes a job arranging flowers at the glamorous restaurant Yerba Buena and embarks on an affair with the married owner.

When Sara catches sight of Emilie one morning at Yerba Buena, their connection is immediate. But the damage both women carry, and the choices they have made, pulls them apart again and again. When 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, they must decide if their love is more powerful than their pasts.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: drug use, depression, child abuse, parental neglect, sexual assault, grief, loss

Yerba Buena is a story about two women and the pieces of themselves they hide from the world, themselves, and each other. It’s an emotional character driven journey. Listening to this audio book was an experience in lives unfolding and blooming. I loved both Sara and Emilie’s lives – how they intersect and diverge. While Sara’s story is the one I kept going back to, I think Emilie was the character closest to my heart.

Sara’s story begins with loss, betrayal, and survival. What she is willing to do to escape. Whereas Emilie’s story begins with a relationship that makes us question our own limitations and values. Watching their lives unfold, made for an experience that was both quiet and captivating. Yerba Buena is a testament to the messiness and complexity of life. To knowing that in some ways timing is what happens and what we make of it. All these steps and pieces of our lives we have to go through to get where we are.

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Pieces of our past we cannot escape that haunt us until we confront it. The narrator is able to captivate us with the emotions and intricacies of the character. While there’s a distinct plot line, it’s more meandering than one might expect. But Whelan is able to take us along for the ride, to express these lingering doubts and secrets. As a whole, Yerba Buena is a book about how their lives are interconnect. It’s a story about love and family, friendship and vulnerability. Find Yerba Buena on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound,, The Book Depository, & Google Play.


What is your favorite YA writer who has also written adult fiction?

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