This summer, Penumbra Online's Summer Book Club wanted to read books in line with our theme of celebrating LGBTQ+ representation. As such, we chose the novel Yerba Buena, written by Nina Lacour. Yerba Buena is more than a lesbian romance novel: it follows to lives of two women, Sara and Emilie, who struggle immensely as they find closure and acceptance with their pasts within their respective lives. With its unique storytelling and authenticity, Yerba Buena shows a realistic yet heartwarming love story between two adult women while still allowing both women to have their own unique stories.
The novel itself is set up interestingly: it switches between the perspectives of Sara and Emilie. Sara's journey begins early on as a young girl. After she finds her girlfriend Annie dead in a lake, she runs away to Los Angeles with Grant, a strange boy who is also a social outcast because of his sexuality. Sara struggles with her past and her relationship with her father, as she's tasked with caring for her younger brother Spenser after their father is admitted into prison. Sara has to find herself before she finds Emilie, and likewise, Emilie must do the same.
Emilie has her own troubles when it comes to her past. Her family is riddled with issues, between her parents divorce, her sister's frequent use of drugs and alcohol, and her grandmother's death. In addition to all this, she has to combat her own feelings of uselessness, with her dissatisfaction in herself with not having a career as well as her need for male validation. Both Emilie and Sara have much to learn and discover about themselves before the two of them are emotionally ready to be a part of each other's lives long-term.
In all, Yerba Buena is beautiful, inspiring story about two women who find themselves and fall in love. This more mature take on romance is something I find refreshing, and the fact that it's a WLW story that focuses more on family connection is important too, as many members of the LGBT+ community find that they have to disconnect themselves from their family in order to live more authentically with less guilt.
If you can, definitely check out this book! It's a quick read and it's easy to get invested in the story to see how Sara and Emilie turn out. If you want to hear the Penumbra team talk about it, be sure to keep a look out for our latest podcast episode, scheduled to come out this Thursday. It'll be posted on our podcast page and Spotify.
Autumn Andersen is an editor for Penumbra Online and grad student at CSU Stanislaus. She enjoys reading, writing, and talking about her favorite shows.