Michael L. Printz Award winning author Nina LaCour returns in this hauntingly beautiful tale of loneliness and family.
I was so excited when I heard Nina LaCour was writing a new book; when I first read We Are Okay years ago, I fell in love with her work. Her writing style is deep with emotion and rich with words that make you want curl up with a blanket and a cup of tea. Watch Over Me is certainly no exception to that rule.
Just graduated, Mila is offered a job teaching at a farm home for foster kids in Northern California. But when her past comes to haunt her, her memories begin to resurface in a way she never expected. In stark contrast to LaCour’s previous novels, this book leans more on the thriller side rather than the contemporary. Ghosts and trauma are two prominent themes in this novel, and both leave Mila feeling terrified of her situation.
There’s not too much of a romantic-subplot in this novel, which I enjoyed. Not every life story involves romance, and it’s more realistic to see it that way. Watch Over Me focuses more on the idea of depending on yourself – and found family – to get you through your trauma. Mila struggles with residual guilt from her past, bringing up vivid flashbacks that leave her mentally unstable. She ends up having to rely on her fellow coworkers at the farm to keep her calm and focused. But when her anxiety overpowers her reality, she begins to worry she’s not as much a part of the family as she’d hoped.
When she arrives, Mila’s 9-year-old pupil Lee has only been on the farm for a few months. He, like her, feels that he is not as close with the others as he wants to be; both characters believe the rest of the farm is shutting them out. Lee’s mental health begins to decline until he eventually stops talking to Mila altogether. The connection between Mila and Lee runs deep, and when Mila begins to believe Lee has been hurt, she’s worried for his safety and their friendship.
I’ll try not to reveal the ending – you’ll have to read the book yourself to see – but ultimately Mila learns she must face the ghosts of her past in order to feel at peace. This book truly is an emotional ride, and Nina LaCour does an amazing job and writing it. If you’re looking for a ghost story right before Halloween, I think this came out at just the right time.
You can order this book here!
Rep: LGBTQ+ author, orphaned main character, found family, foster system.