We Are Not Okay

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Member Reviews

I wanted to like this book because I liked the of the concept behind it and it had a playlist. How can you resist a a playlist? The book follows four girls in secondary school who each deal with different forms of bullying. I just could not get into this book, I didn't care for any of the characters very much, I didn't realy like the writing style  and at times I just found myself skim reading it. I got to 38% before calling it quits.
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I don’t think I was the target audience for this book. It’s a YA book about four girls each dealing with contemporary issues, but the subject matter and setting meant it felt very “teenage”. I enjoy YA novels but this one was at the younger end of the scale and I wasn’t feeling it at all. I reached about 20% before I called it a day.
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All is not well at Birchwood High School, located in a small town near Glasgow, Scotland. Underneath the veneer of respectability and proper school rules, lies a culture of shaming, gossip and bullying. It is in this fictional setting that Natália Gomes sets her latest young adult novel We Are Not Okay which explores the treacherous paths teens must traverse in an age where every step is captured and shared on social media.

We Are Not Okay is told by four narrators in short, alternating chapters, making it almost impossible to put down. Sophia is almost ready to take her relationship to the next level with her boyfriend Steve until he betrays her in the most public way possible. Lucy is hiding a terrible secret but she knows that as long as she works to destroy the lives of others, it will serve to deflect attention away from her.

Ulana is a Muslim student, recently moved over from Morocco, who stands on the sidelines of Birchwood society. She knows that just one wrong step could bring dishonour to her family. Trina knows she will never go to university and despite her reputation, has only gone as far as kissing boys. She definitely didn’t consent to what happened at Lucy’s party.

It’s a train wreck waiting to happen and when it does, it impacts not only the lives of four girls but the whole community surrounding Birchwood High School.

We Are Not Okay ticked many boxes for me. The four protagonists showed great character development over the course of the story and had to make brave decisions in very trying circumstances. I didn’t always agree with or respect the decisions they made but ultimately they were all written in line with their characters and I respect that.
Ultimately this was a fast-paced novel that showed how quickly incidents can escalate in the small microcosm of a high school and it was good to read a book of this kind set in a school in the UK. Because of its focus on bullying and social media, this would be a great book to read in the classroom. Natália also writes under the name N. D. Gomes and I liked what I read here enough to add her novels Dear Charlie and Blackbird to my to-read list.

I give We Are Not Okay an excellent four out of five stars and recommend to fans of 13 Reasons Why, John Green and Jennifer Niven.
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We Are Not Okay was a book provided to me by Netgalley and I actually really enjoyed the story and the characters. The one thing that I didn’t particularly rate was the writing style, I thought it was a little simplistic and underdeveloped at times. In terms of themes and issues, there was a lot, almost too many. I’m not entirely sure why it was thought that they could cover all of it in a single but they definitely tried. I was disappointed that they didn’t pull it off, but I appreciated the attempt, purely because the things that are discussed are important and need to be talked about.

I think the biggest problem I had with We Are Not Okay was that I’m a little old for the characters, and I struggled to connect to them each as characters. However, this could have also been the writing style, especially as everything seemed to move extremely quickly and it had a kind of whiplash effect and I was left reeling from each event with very little time to recover and connect with what was happening. This was where more development could have played a bigger part in the storyline and would have made a better impact on me as a reader.

We Are Not Okay was a really good look at life within a high school and it deals with many issues that teenagers go through on a daily basis. I have mentioned it above that I think there were too many that weren’t dealt with particularly well. I wanted there to be depth and a sub plot for each of the characters and I just felt as though the issues were extremely superficial and lacked a sense of purpose within the story. I appreciated that these are issues do happen but I thought it might have been better to just focus on one and delve right into it.

I thought the ending of We Are Not Okay was a fitting end. I think it really highlights how hard hitting these issues can be when they aren’t dealt with as efficiently as they should be. I definitely think that each of the characters developed at an appropriate pace but I do wished there had been more about each of them and more about where they are as a person rather than the superficial bits, I think that would have made the ending so much better!

I do think I would recommend We Are Not Okay, it was a good read and a good look at the inner workings of a high school I just think it dealt with too many of those issues at once. I definitely think it would be good for someone who was slightly younger than I am. But I did really enjoy the book and the story.
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The story centres on the viewpoints of four girls at school; Trina (the one with the bad reputation), Lucy (the bully), Sophia (the shy one in thrall to her boyfriend), and Ulana (the one from a conservative Muslim background). All of them have secrets which include pregnancy, sexual assault, and revenge porn, and don't feel as if they can talk to others about them. 

I thought the book fairly accurately described the isolation that some teenage girls can feel from their peers and also the pressure that they are put under. I initially thought the book was going to deal with abortion in a different way to the usual trope which we get on TV, in films, and in most books, but this went the same way. Maybe it's because it's YA, I don't know.  I was also disappointed with the fact that Sophia's boyfriend, Steve seemed to be forgiven for his involvement in things rather too quickly. 

Themes/TWs: bullying, slut-shaming, revenge porn, teen pregnancy, abortion/family planning, suicide.

Thanks to NetGalley and publishers, HQ, for the opportunity to read an ARC.
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I gave this book 3.5 / 5 stars


"They’ll say it was my fault. All my fault.

They’ll say it was because I was drunk.

They’ll say it was because I wore a short skirt.

Because I had make up on, red lipstick, black eyeliner – adult make up.

Because my top was low-cut.

Because I wore a lace bra.

Because

Because

Because it’s always the girl’s fault. Never the guy’s. And most certainly, always my fault." - We Are Not Okay


My opinions on this book really changed as I progressed through it. And I even have comments to balance my initial issues with the book. I didn’t like the first half for a plethora of reasons. It felt too gossipy high school hell all over again. But there’s a moment when it hits the halfway mark and the novel really starts to form all these different paths, and that’s when it really started to feel like it had more depth than just school drama. By the end it felt like a calls to arms of the way we treat others and the struggles that you don’t realise others are facing.

The most important part to address is the way in which this book deals with so many issues that young teens are currently having to go through. The portrayal of the school, the cutthroat attitude, and using social media as a weapon was done really well. It felt real. The book touches on various issues such as revenge porn, body image, the internet, religion as a dividing factor, teen pregnancy, sexual assault, and mental illnesses. The second half is a heavy read. There’s a lot going on and it’s not the easiest topics.

"Why is it that my daughter is the one sitting here like she’s being punished for this while he continues to attend school and be with his friends like nothing happened." - We Are Not Okay, 

I teared up several times near the end. There are some truly powerful and heartbreaking moments. The worst thing is reading this but realising how often and how easy it is for what has happened in the book, to happen in schools across the world. And because of that, it’s something that every teen should have to read. Due to the nature of some topics I’d suggest 14 and above, any younger completely depends on the maturity of the individual.

The book follows journal style entries from the four characters, Sophia, Ulana, Lucy and Trina. At first, I struggled with this. The first half doesn’t feel like there’s anything happening than typical drama, and I felt like I was rolling my eyes and back in the middle of hell more than anything. It also felt slightly lacking because there wasn’t a strong sense of world building, which makes sense if its journal entries, but helped make it seem a little weak. It wasn’t until after the party, where everything started to happen and I realised why there isn’t much world building. The lack of description of the school represents the way in which these scenarios could happen anywhere, not just this particular setting. Also, it’s told in blog entries. Girls aren’t going to spend five minutes describing the hallways.

By the end, the writing still felt a tiny bit too cheesy, but it gets the message out loud and clear. If you read this and struggle with the first half like I did, sit through it until you’re 60-70% through and then decide. The pace changes, there’s complete character arcs, and the whole time its so convincing that this is actually happening.

Overall, this is one of those books that discusses issues that teens and young adults are facing day in day out. It truly captures the harsh side of high schools and the way in which social media can be turned into a weapon. This book covers so many problems that any reader will be able to take something from reading this. It’s an important read.
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I loved that this story took place in a Scottish high school and the description and atmosphere made me imagine my own Hugh school years and I could imagine the events in the book taking place there. 
The book tackles a lot of relevant and pertinent issues which teenagers face such as peer pressure, social media, bullying, family pressures, feeling included, finding your own identity. The story is told from the viewpoint of four main characters and it is easy to dislike, empathise and support them throughout the story. It was great to see the different story arcs come together and then go off on unexpected directions. I really enjoyed this story and think it would be an invaluable read for any teenagers in your lifetime fe or adults who need a reminder of what being a teenager trying to find their way in the world is like.
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Does perhaps cram in a few too many 'issues' but actually characters' voices do ring true & it quickly becomes an engaging & emotional tale.
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I don’t know whether to give this book a three or four star rating? At one point during the book, I wanted to give it five stars. 

I really enjoyed the discussions on rape culture, toxic masculinity and misogyny in general. How girls should support each other rather than ripping into each other over things that men created to keep us “below” them. It spoke about sexual assault and slut shaming, as well. 

However, there were a few things I didn’t like. Steve was meant to be a display on toxic masculinity and the damage one person can do to another (specifically a man over a woman) but his redeeming arc seemed to be a little too easy for him. The redeeming arc for these characters in the story had a much more slow burning redeeming arc.

I also didn’t like how, when one of the characters went to get an abortion, how the narration treated it like it was full of judgemental staff turning teens that may be reading this off from getting support if they’re in a similar situation. 

And I also didn’t like how queerness wasn’t supported in this novel - there were no mentions of trans women, lesbians, bisexuals, nothing like that. In fact, it did show a few things that were against it, like a gender reveal party. I think queer teens would have really needed to know that they’re supported in terms of feminist and women on women love

Otherwise I really enjoyed it. I think this book is going to stay with me a while and it’s definitely something I know a lot of teenagers need to read.
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A book with a plot that focuses on bullying, We Are Not Okay is said from the point of view of four girls, who have various secrets that they are trying to hide. Lucy, with a seemingly perfect life, enforces that image with difficulty, and one of the ways she does that is by shifting the attention onto other girls in the school. She has a particular hate-on for Trina, who her ex Rhys is interested in, which means in her head she has made out that Trina stole her boyfriend. Meanwhile, Sophia's cheating boyfriend retaliates when she breaks up with him by sharing images of her online, leading to her being bullied at school. Ulana, from a conservative Muslim family, hides her boyfriend, but her classmates may well be aware of it. Trina is recovering from a sexual assault while she's being bullied for the same night, and is constant blaming herself and feels she has no recourse.

Firstly, I have to say (independently of the plot), the writing is weak and not engaging. The voices of the girl are barely distinct enough, and Trina's POV being journal entries doesn't make a difference to that either. Just 50 pages into it, I was tired of reading each of the girls' long-winded explanations about their backstories, frequently wandering into asides and returning to the topic like 2 paragraphs later. I mostly skimmed the parts without dialogue because I could already see it wasn't adding much to anything, besides my mounting frustration with the writing style. Then the plot - it is mostly cat-fighting, about Lucy destroying two of the girls' reputations through cyber bullying, when they were both victims and granted she doesn't know about one, but she doesn't seem much apologetic later on either. She herself is dealing with an unintended pregnancy, which Trina uses as a returning volley. Perhaps Ulana was only the mature one in the bunch, because she is like 'the guy is at fault FFS' while Sophia is apologizing to the guy who humiliated her online and broke her trust, and continues to be a dick all around. He, BTW, goes pretty much scot-free at the end (look, a suspension is not enough punishment, I am just saying). So what do we have here: nearly everyone is terrible, and lo, I guess that fits the title now. *eyeroll*

I don't have much to say about the ending other than it was overly simplistic considering ALL the drama that happened during the book. Lucy suddenly forgives her friends; and is about to forgive that dickwad of a guy? Perhaps only Ulana's storyline had a satisfactory ending, but then her arc was quite different from the other girls' and it was more of her gaining some sort of courage to tell her parents. Overall, this was a tiresome book to read, even if it has a good message.
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This is the perfect summer read. It’s a well written, fast paced word puzzle that won’t let up until the final pages.
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We are not okay is a wonderful book. It is well written and caught my interest instantly. I was hooked until the very last page. 5 stars!
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This was so close to being a 4 star book for me and it was, for the most part, however the last 1/3 of the book really brought it down for me.

I really like the premise of the story. Following four schoolgirls as they struggle with emotional, harrowing and distressing issues and how they deal with those issues with their friends, families and each other.

Unfortunately, while the novel does do a good job of discussing some of these topics, it sometimes leaves other issues sidelined or simply not giving the topic enough room to breathe within the story. This is apparent with the end to one of the girls' stories, which really deserved a much more in-depth look at it as I felt it was way too rushed and came almost out of nowhere.

I don't want to say we should have only followed one girl because as I say, the premise of following all 4 dealing with different issues is an interesting one. I just believe some of the stories could have been expanded so that the ending felt more complete.

I certainly can't fault the author of this book for raising awareness and it was nice to see this tie in to an Anti Bullying Campaign.

Thanks to HQ and NetGalley for providing me with a copy for review.
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Beautifully written and constructed through four viewpoints, we are introduced to a world of emotion friendship and betrayal and soon become absorbed in the depth of feeling, of the judgements and misjudgements made and the regrets experienced of four teen girls battling their way towards acceptance and self knowledge. Sensitively portrayed, warts and all, we are made to care about the outcome of these four characters even when they are most unlikable. Who has not made choices they have later regretted and who has not persuaded themselves that they were not the one at fault? Entirely believable and ultimately uplifting this book deals with serious issues and their potential outcomes. Recommended.
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This was a good read, with themes that are important and need to be explored. I liked the characters, they all had depth and personalities but I found it a little confusing trying to keep up with the many goings on in the book. Overall this was a  story with very authentic voice about girls standing up for themselves and their friends that I'd highly recommend to young people.
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I never used to read much from the contemporary genre whether it be YA or Adult but for some reason this book caught my eye, I read the blurb and felt I really wanted to read it.

I find the cover rather simplistic yet striking. I love the colours on the cover and the large X makes you want to know what is being said is "no or banned". So I guess it tugs on your curiosity/nosey gene lol. At the very beginning of the book is a playlist of songs, I’ll be totally honest I haven’t heard of most of the artists, so can’t say I know any of the songs, perhaps they will be more relevant to the YA market this book is aimed at.

The book is focused on four girls, Sophia Greer, Lucy McNeil, Ulana Alami and Trina Davis all seemingly similar and attending the same school. Yet looking at each different girl you learn all the individual secrets they have to keep....

It is a difficult book to describe and talk about without revealing too much of the plot, but I will try my best and share a little bit about each girl.

Sophia has a steady boyfriend, Steve, and is happy in their relationship but Steve wants to push things further than just kissing and touching under shirt. Sophia is managing to come up with excuses not to go any further but worries Steve will get fed up of her saying no and look elsewhere for the kind of relationship he wants. Then she wonders is she is saying no and isn’t ready, is it that Steve isn’t “the one” for her and does she just need to pluck up the courage and “do it”? To be fair Steve doesn’t push Sophia, yet at the same time wants to know if she will be saying “yes” soon or not? Sophia thinks about what she would call her own “short comings” in comparison to other girls at Birchwood High School. Sophia isn’t as fun and social as Trina, or as confident, pretty or popular as Lucy.

Lucy McNeill may appear confident but she feels different, she thinks everything seems different this year. Her dad has once again left the family home, he has another woman, in fact his girlfriend is pregnant! Lucy compares her father’s girlfriend Amber, to someone who she reminds her of from school. To Lucy people like Amber and Trina are the same, in her opinion they are sluts who steal others boyfriends/husbands. These “sluts” also wear short skirts and wear far too much make-up too. Even though Lucy thinks this way she cannot seem to be able to finish her relationship with Steve and ends up buying some lacy underwear and posing in it, then sending photos to Steve. At this stage I was "woah! alarm bells!" and "Oh you silly girl"

Trina Davis hasn’t got a very good reputation at school and Lucy blames her for “stealing” her boyfriend Rhys. Trina has been seeing Rhys during the school holidays and hopes their relationship continues, she doesn’t see what Rhys ever saw in his ex-girlfriend. Trina hates that everyone sees her as the bad person, they think she stole Rhys! Trina and Lucy used to be kind of friends, well they used to have quite a few classes together. Trina cannot understand why Lucy should have any ill feeling towards her, its not like she stole Rhys. As far as Trina knows Rhys and Lucy had finished their relationship before Rhys went out with her!

Ulana is a Muslim girl whose family is strict and all she wishes is to have some of the freedom the other girls seem to have. Ulana has a secret boyfriend, Aiden. They try to have “proper dates” but have to be extra careful not to be seen. Ulana explains to Aiden that her family would not approve purely because he is not a “good muslim boy”, they are “not the same”, they “should not mix” Then Ulana meets Aiden’s family and it seems that her family isn’t the other one with prejudices about who their child should and shouldn’t date.

It seems all of the girls are wanting to be like one of the others as well as more than they currently are. Which I guess lots of teenagers, in fact, most teenagers go through this kind of thing. The writing is very true to life and different parts of the story are told by the individual girls that section is about. There were times I wanted to shout at the different girls or shake them by the shoulders, but then I am well past being a teenager myself. I readily admit to feeling the pressure of wanting to fit in. Envying the popular pretty girls and wanting the fit boys to notice you too, rather than treating you like "one of the boys" or "one of the gang".

I really loved one of the entries in Trina’s diary about why is it when you don’t want to see someone, all you do is see them everywhere you go lol. Whereas Ulana is having the opposite experience of when you really need to see someone you can never find them. Thing like this made the book relatable to me and I am sure it will have a similar effect with teenagers reading the book. 

Obviously where there’s girls there’s usually boys and we have some strong male characters within this book such as Rhys and Steve who are also making their own way through puberty etc.

I found the book to be an enjoyable read, though at times it became a little bit confusing trying to keep things straight in my head as I went along. Things such as which girl was with which boy and then keeping track of which girl had what secret.
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Four girls. Four problems. But all interlinked, yet so separate. The males in this book do not come out of it well. But this book is about girls standing up for themselves and for their friends. Reading as an adult, I was, of course, shouting at them to share their worries. But to each girl, their problems were the end of the world and they were alone. If they had shared, tragedy and conflict could have been avoided. This is the situation of so many young girls who find themselves in situations such as these. As a reader, hopefully it is obvious what the next step should be and painful exposure can be avoided. A powerful novel to show consequences.
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In this book we meet Sophie, she loves her boyfriend but feels pressed to have sex with him. She's friends with Ulana. However she fixates on being the perfect weight and sends her boyfriend a risky photo he asks her to send...



Sophie admires Lucy, popular girl and recently single after secretly her boyfriend Rhys dumped her not the other way round and starts seeing Trina like she lies to her friends. She also hates the fact her dad left for a new family and her mum can't leave the house now. Only as she wishes her ex would go back to her she makes a shocking discovery that he had no idea about as he moves on unaware what has happened since their split...



Trina, Rhys new sort of girlfriend doesn't fit the stereotype of university student as she feels stuck in her town with her mum as shes in debt. She gets called a slut at school because of rumours and how she dresses.



Ulana is a new girl, a muslim in a school alone from her fellow usual students who accepted her. Her only friend seems to be Sophie now and Aidian who sticks up for her against the bullies only as the pair descend into a relationship her religious beliefs start to break their happiness despite Aidan wanting them to act like a normal couple...



The girls lives collide as they all deal with serious teen issues as describe above and further others in the book it's a relatable book as anything mentioned could happen to a teen girl or a girl of any age. I liked that the characters all had very different personalities from being shy, outgoing, self assured or confident in belief, each girl is headstrong in the face of each issue and girl power is very much present throughout the book.



Many thanks to the publishers for allowing me to review this book for them!
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This books combines many themes in current YA literature, namely rape, bullying, teenage pregnancy, body image, online harrassment and dating with different cultural/religious backgrounds. I feel this book is often over the top with too many issues and not much in depth. I was often wondering about the time and the setting it was written in. 
In the end I think it is a good read for teens struggeling with these issues, as it emphasises the need to talk about problems with people that can be trusted.
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DISCLAIMER – I was given an advanced reader’s copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest 

Not going to lie I kind of struggled with this book. I found myself to be lost a lot of time and not 100% sure what was going on at all.

It was a very fast paced book which is good otherwise I would get bored but I just couldn't keep up with the 4 main characters and all the secrets it really just confused the hell out of me. There just seemed like there was so much going on.

If the book was written better I would have loved it as in not so many chapters where the character points of views change so much. If it was done better it really would have worked it however didn't work.

The core story of the book was good. It gave incredibly important messages and I'm glad I read it, this book just wasn't for me however.
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