It’s an incredible thing when a books subject matter truly stirs emotions deep within you - whether that is happiness, anger, sadness, shame or joy. It means that the book was a powerful one, and that the author skilfully succeeded in getting their message/s across. We Are Not Okay by Natália Gomes is an extremely powerful book that left me feeling shocked, sad and outraged, yet surprisingly hopeful.
Grippingly eye-opening, We Are Not Okay follows the lives of four very different and distinct female voices, each with a story that’s ultimately silenced, rejected or deemed untrue by their society. Shocking threads of suicide, rape, bullying, racism and abortion are just a few of the issues that Gomes explores in her book, and she does so in an extremely sensitive yet honest and bold voice.
Each character is written in first person, with a journal narrative structure for one, and their stories fluidly shift focus from one character to another. Each have their own personality and characteristics, and whilst we may not fully connect with them on a personal level, we do as the reader invest into and sympathies with their stories. This book was informative to me for so many reasons, but one of which that particularly stood out to me was the aftermath of these traumas and the legacies that they can have over the course of a life time. Whilst we only see a glimpse into the girls’ futures, we do see how their pasts fold into their daily lives and how this ultimately brings them together.
Whilst We Are Not Okay tackles these extremely difficult subjects, Gomes skilfully shines a light on the importance of girl power and sisterhood and the support, honesty and acceptance that comes with it; using your voice and standing your ground, and ultimately showing kindness in a toxic and difficult setting that schools can be. And not to mention the focus on the anti-bullying campaign at the end is just one step of many in making a stand.
In the age of the #MeToo Movement, Michelle Obama and Time’s Up, this book and the issues that it explores is more vital than ever. We’re transitioning into a new era where women are finally being heard and where stories like Lucy’s, Ulana’s, Trina’s and Sophia’s are approached with support, understanding and compassion.
Read this book, pass it on and start the conversation that #wearenotokay.