“I’m learning that it’s good to think about what scares you. To bring it into the light. Even to hold it in your hands, if you can, and feel how it can’t hurt you anymore. To think of it and say, ‘I am not afraid.’”
If you’ve read a Nina LaCour novel in the past, you’re aware of her unique skill in melancholic tone, beautiful prose, and vivid imagery. LaCour has mastered writing loneliness in a way that fills the reader with overwhelming emotion; her writing affects you for days or even weeks after reading the final sentence.
In Watch Over Me, our protagonist, Mila, takes an internship on a secluded farm outside of Mendocino after aging out of foster care.
The farm is owned by Terry and Julia, a couple who are dedicated to rebuilding the lives of youth affected by the foster care system. Mila and the other two interns living on the farm are responsible for teaching the younger children.
With an absent father, a mother who has abandoned her, and foster parents who chose not to adopt her, Mila has never felt true belonging. When Terry and Julia offer her an internship, it almost feels too good to be true. This peaceful farm, filled with children whose pasts resemble her own, gives Mila a renewed sense of hope. Maybe this could be her home. Perhaps these people can be her family.
She hadn’t been told about the ghosts.
At night, when the coastal fog rolls over the property, luminescent ghosts visit the farm. One apparition, in particular, appears to be connected to Mila. As time passes, mementos from her past begin to materialize. Dark memories crowd Mila’s mind, and she must decide whether she is strong enough to endure these chilling experiences and remain at the farm, or if she will run away from it all.
The story jumps back and forth from Mila’s haunting past to the present, giving the reader deeper insight into why Mila has such difficulty feeling loved and cared for by her newfound family. She is consistently unable to trust herself and often sees herself as an outsider in her new home, where the other family members have managed to build such strong bonds.
As the reader, you don’t get the complete picture of the physical and emotional trauma Mila has suffered until she is ready to confront it herself. Although your life may not look the same as Mila’s, we all have things we need to heal from. Through her lyrical writing, LaCour invites the reader to process and confront their traumas alongside this fictional character.
Watch Over Me is a highly compelling story that deals with found family and healing from emotional wounds. The novel itself is relatively short, but the poetic style, captivating characters, and powerful subject matter make this story feel large.
For next month, we’ll be reading People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry. Pick up your copy from Bookshop Benicia now, or follow beniciabooktails on instagram for clues on where to find one of our donated copies.
2 oz Empress 1908 Gin
½ oz Lillet Blanc
Edible flowers (optional)
- Stir Gin and Lillet Blanc on ice.
- Strain into a chilled martini glass.
- Zest grapefruit over your martini.
- Top with edible flowers for a beautiful presentation.
Mila’s Mocktail (lavender lemonade)
6 cups water
½ cup sugar
¼ cup honey
3 Tbsp dried lavender
2 cups lemon juice
Lemon slices and lavender petals (for garnish)
Blue or purple food coloring (optional)
- Over medium heat, combine 2 cups of water and sugar, bringing to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat and stir in honey and lavender.
- Allow mixture to steep for 2 hours. Strain the liquid, pressing the lavender down to make sure you get all of the flavor.
- In a large pitcher, combine freshly squeezed lemon juice, lavender mixture and 4 cups of water.
- Add a couple of drops of blue or purple food coloring if you want more color than the lavender provides.