Buy Watch Over Me
Regular price: $14.90
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Format: Paperback / Audiobook
Narrator: Jorjeana Marie
Reviewer: Melissa on Nov. 20, 2020
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Once again Nina LaCour has delivered an emotional gut punch of a book with her latest novel, Watch Over Me.
I’ve wanted to read this novel since I first heard about it, even more so when I saw it’s lovely cover. Nina LaCour is the author of some of my favourite books, ones that have hit me in the feels in a way I’ll never forget with a simple turn of phrase and that I wish had been available to me when I was actually a teen. Add in the fact that Watch Over Me is her first ghost story, and I knew that teen me (and adult me) would be the prime audience for this new release.
Weaving haunting memories from Mila’s past and present in surprising ways, Watch Over Me is a quintessential novel for fans of LGBTQIA+ positive stories where the focus is not on the main character’s sexuality, but rather on the traumatic past that is haunting her and the community to which she longs to belong. It’s a story that queer readers may recognize as an allegorical tale about being rejected by your biological family and friends while finding and being embraced and loved by a chosen family. However, in this case, the chosen family isn’t chosen based solely on a shared, non-heterosexual orientation, but rather on a shared experience of being abused or abandoned by their biological families, and finding, instead, a community that understands because they’re haunted by the similar “ghosts.” Not only have they chosen to be part of this community, but the community chose them, too. As a reader, I found this aspect of the novel to be very moving.
At the same time, Watch Over Me can be read as a completely straight story of a young woman who suffered from her mother’s abusive boyfriend and the guilt she has over what she did (or didn’t do) before finding herself in the foster care system. Or as a story about both literal and figurative hauntings faced by Mila and the other kids on the farm. It’s a story about the ghosts that haunt Mila now, and the ones that, maybe, she’ll be able to let go of through her connection with the other inhabitants on the farm. Because it is these stories just as much as it’s an allegory. In short, it’s a story that you’ll never forget.
Narrated by Jorjeana Marie, the audiobook of Watch Over Me is a delight. Marie’s voice is one I could listen to for hours whether she was speaking in Mila’s voice or one of the voices of the other inhabitants of the farm. In particular, I fondly remember both Lee’s and little James’ voices in particular. While I’m sure that reading this book in the physical format would be great, I personally quite enjoyed and would recommend the audiobook.
In case it’s a trigger, I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the further one gets into Watch Over Me, the more details Nina LaCour reveals about Mila’s life before she ended up in foster care. Some of these details might be triggering to some people. She gives hints along the way of things that you might expect in the stories Mila shares with Lee and the flashbacks she has while she’s awake and asleep, so you’ll never be hit with the events all at once. That said, the abusive experiences Mila has from her mom’s boyfriend, including gaslighting, neglect, and some instances of physical pain and being controlled, are hard to read. Even more hard to read are the actions of Mila’s mom after a traumatic event happens that could’ve really changed their life in a positive way. While Mila has experienced some types of abuse, keep in mind that the story isn’t all dark and LaCour incorporates these elements in a sensitive manner.
If you’re looking for a lyrical novel to pick up now or whenever you’re in the mood for something a little bit spooky, Watch Over Me is a perfect choice—even if you can’t take anything scary.
Purchase Watch Over Me for a great price!