We Are Okay

We Are Okay
Written by Nina LaCour

Publisher’s 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.

Primary Source Pairing:
Marin and Mabel have a kinship that borders on familial. Their friendship defined by who they were in high school and the summer that followed senior year. After the tragic loss of her Grandfather, Marin leaves everything behind, including Mabel. During the holiday, Mabel makes the trek from California to New York to visit Marin. Anxieties aside, both girls find value in the visit and the ability to create a new normal out of tragedy.

For this primary source pairing, use the painting The Two Fridas created by painter Frida Kahlo. The discussion between Marin and Mabel about this painting is found on pages 95-98 and referenced again on pages 229-230. Invite students to read these passages again and study the painting in context to the story and the development of the friendship between Marin and Mabel.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you notice first?
  • What people and objects are shown?
  • How are they arranged?
  • What is the physical setting?
  • What’s happening in the image?
  • Find something small but interesting.
  • Find something that you can’t explain.
  • How do you feel when you study this painting?
  • How do the emotions of the painting connect to the relationship between Marin and Mabel?

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
Two Fridas: painting created by Frida Kahlo: www.fridakahlo.org

Related Primary Source Pairing:
Viva Frida, Written and Illustrated by Yuyi Morales
Frida Kahlo, one of the world’s most famous and unusual artists is revered around the world. Her life was filled with laughter, love, and tragedy, all of which influenced what she painted on her canvases. Distinguished author/illustrator Yuyi Morales illuminates Frida’s life and work in this elegant and fascinating book.