When Sara Foster runs away from home at sixteen, she leaves behind not only the losses that have shattered her world but the girl she once was, capable of trust and intimacy. Years later, in Los Angeles, she is a sought-after bartender, renowned as much for her brilliant cocktails as for the mystery that clings to her. Across the city, Emilie Dubois is in a holding pattern. In her seventh year and fifth major as an undergraduate, she yearns for the beauty and community her Creole grandparents cultivated but is unable to commit. On a whim, she takes a job arranging flowers at the glamorous restaurant Yerba Buena and embarks on an affair with the married owner.
When Sara catches sight of Emilie one morning at Yerba Buena, their connection is immediate. But the damage both women carry, and the choices they have made, pulls them apart again and again. When Sara’s old life catches up to her, upending everything she thought she wanted just as Emilie has finally gained her own sense of purpose, they must decide if their love is more powerful than their pasts.
At once exquisite and expansive, astonishing in its humanity and heart, Yerba Buena is a love story for our time and a propulsive journey through the lives of two women finding their way in the world.
Could Yerba Buena be my favourite romance of the year? There was so much about it that I loved and I know it will stay with me! I have found that I appreciate romances where there are deeper themes and we gain a lot of insight into the characters’ backgrounds. That was certainly the case in Yerba Buena.
Both Sara and Emilie, who we follow from when they are teenagers into their late twenties, have family members who have dealt with addiction, which is a significant theme throughout the novel. I thought that Nina LaCour did a fantastic job at showing the ripple effects that addiction has within a family.
The dual POVs really worked, though the timelines could be confusing at times. I would say that this is a love story but not a romance. Do not expect the romance to be at the forefront.
There was something powerful about the ending. It felt so real to me! I thought that Sara and Emilie had a deep and true connection, but they are human and they are flawed. I was moved by it, to be honest.
The title Yerba Buena has multiple meanings- it is not only the name of the restaurant where Sara and Emilie meet but also the name of a drink and of a plant.
Yerba Buena is Nina LaCour’s first adult novel, and I cannot wait to read more from her in the future!