one step at a time towards the future | when we were them by laura taylor namey

by - 10:30 AM

There’s way more distance keeping us alive than there could ever be between Illinois and San Diego. But we don’t feel any of that inside. We just live. Funny how those two thousand miles seem so much bigger.

     isbn: 9781534471276 | pages: 384
     publication date: November 16, 2021 | source: library, e-book
     genre: adult, science fiction, fantasy, lgbtqia+, fiction
     rating: 7.7/10

    A M A Z O N    |    G O O D R E A D S    |    B O O K S H O P * 
    B O O K D E P O S I T O R Y    |    B A R N E S A N D N O B L E S
links with an (*) are affiliate where, when used to purchase gives me a small commission to support my blog at no extra cost to you!

the hold of the past
There are moments where a book just feels so incredibly introspective that when you finish, there's this blanket of amazement and a hint of disbelief at how something so simple could make such a big impact. This was 100% the affect that When We Were Them had on me and a couple weeks later, I'm already itching to go back and re-experience this story. This is a novel about friendships and the difficult changes that come with life's crossroads - Willa makes a decision that comes back to haunt her present and jeopardize her future and she has a week to figure out how to make things right. 

Following both the present and the past, Willa reveals the details that led her to "the big decision" and Laura Taylor Namey breathes life into the friendship between her, Luz, and Britton. There was something so comforting about their relationship and the unspoken understanding the trio had amongst themselves. The writing of this novel feels so vastly different from the author's previous works because of how subtle its delivery is. The syntax is almost too quiet and gentle, but somehow manages to create a sense of urgency to find the truth. Instead of being deterred by the slower pacing, I was able to take the time to connect with the characters and their experiences, their individual idiosyncrasies that made them so special, which led to a better understanding of their decisions and actions.

the hope of the future
As Willow is figuring out her past and repairing her present, there is also an element of grief and healing woven into her plot. Like Namey's The Library of Lost Things, the conversation around mental health feels incredibly intimate and genuine. The writing exposes the readers to the quirks of the characters and how their growth is affected by the changes around them. Through Willa's perspective we're able to understand why their friendship was so important to her and how that mindset led to her struggle in the present as she comes to terms that the past can't hold them back from the future that's waiting for them.

I wish I had this book at the crossroads between high school and college because it would have reframed my mindset so much. When We Were Them frames change in the light that it can't be avoided and when it comes, see the paths of growth and renewal because there are unlimited possibilities that lie ahead. This also officially solidifies Laura Taylor Namey as one of my favorite contemporary authors and displays her range when it comes to writing both stories that bring the cutest butterflies and stories that leave you lost in reflection.

images taken from unsplash and pexels

You May Also Like


  1. This seems like such a beautiful wee book with such a nostalgic feel. I love a wholesome contemporary so this is definitely a book I will be checking out!

    1. it majorly tugged at my heartstrings for sure! please let me know your thoughts if you pick it up! 💖