Cbr15bingo Queer Lives, bingo
Yerba Buena is a beautifully written and conceived novel about love and loss. Its two main characters, Sara and Emilie, have experienced trauma and tragedy at a young age. As adults, they are each trying to find their place in the world and perhaps find love with each other, but they still struggle with the ghosts of their pasts.
Sara and Emilie grew up in very different environments but share similar problems. Emilie’s family’s Creole roots are in New Orleans, but her grandparents’ generation were part of the great migration westward to California after WWII. Her parents are successful professionals, but that does not prevent tragedy from striking the family. Emilie, a young teen, tries very hard to be the good, reliable, non-problematic child, but what she discovers as an adult is that erasing herself in that way — not being open about her needs and hurts— has caused her pain and sadness, and it gets in the way of her speaking up for herself and making decisions for herself alone. Emilie is a people pleaser who has not found direction or romantic fulfillment in her life. A chance job with a florist does two important things for Emilie: it provides a creative job that she enjoys and has a flair for, and it puts her in the path of two people with whom romance becomes reality.
Sara, on the other hand, grew up in the Pacific Northwest and ran away as a teen to Los Angeles. We know that her mother died young from illness, that she has a younger brother whom she adores and a father with whom she has a problematic relationship. We also know that Sara as a teen was deeply in love with her friend Annie, who disappeared and was later found dead. Sara is prepared to do anything to get as far away from her little home town as possible, but the ghosts of her past follow. She finds success as a bartender and drink creator in LA, and her services are in high demand. One of her clients is the trendy restaurant called Yerba Buena, which is also where Emilie arranges flowers every week.
As the story progresses, author LaCour provides bits and pieces of each character’s past, slowly revealing the extent of each woman’s trauma and their desire to become whole again. The path forward for each woman involves a personal journey, where they must on their own admit to what has happened to them and find a way to live with it. Each woman must find what will make her feel fulfilled in a personal way before they can open themselves up to an adult relationship. I like the way LaCour presents the relationship between these two women as a work in progress, and that they needed to work on themselves first.
This novel contains a number of triggers: suicide, drug abuse, sexual molestation. While LaCour has written YA novels, this is not a YA novel; it is an adult story.