Blog Tour Review: Don’t Ask if I’m Okay, Jessica Kara

Title: Don’t Ask If I’m Okay
Author: Jessica Kara
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publishing Date: May 16, 2023

About the Book

Heartfelt and bittersweet, this coming-of age story explores the tender space of healing where grief meets love

A year ago, Gage survived a car accident that killed his best friend, Hunter. Without the person who always brought out the best in him, Gage doesn’t know who he is. He likes working as a fry cook and loves his small-town friends and family, but they weren’t in the wreck and he can’t tell them how much he’s still
hurting. He just wants to forget all his pain and move on.

So when his stepdad shows him a dream job opening in one of his idol’s restaurants, Gage knows this is his chance to convince everyone and himself that he’s fine. To try to push past his grief once and for all, Gage applies for the job, asks out a crush, and volunteers to host a memorial for Hunter.

But the more Gage tries to ignore his grief, the more volatile it becomes.

When his temper finally turns on the people he loves, Gage must decide what real strength is—holding in his grief until it destroys him, or asking for help and revealing his broken heart for all to see.

Book Links


About the Author

Jessica Kara is a professional author and artist. With a BFA in technical theatre, she worked as a stage manager for eight years in regional theatres and on several national tours. Eventually she left the business to focus on writing, which has always called. She has served as President of her local writing organization, Authors of the Flathead, and is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. She frequently speaks at local conferences, schools, and college classes, striving to inspire a new generation of writers to pursue their passions.

Jess has indie-published a young adult fantasy series featuring gryfon characters, and is excited to now dive into the pool of contemporary young adult fiction. She currently resides in northwest Montana with her husband, spends her time staring at the mountains, drinking a lot of coffee, dreaming up things and people, and chirping back at birds.

Her stories, whether fantastic or contemporary, are “noblebright” at their core, woven with a spirit of determined hope, belief in the power of kindness, and the faith that good will overcome.

Author Links


My Thoughts

The themes of this book are family, friends, and healing. And in Gage’s life, there’s a lot of the first two. He spends his time working and spending his time with his family. His mother and aunt live next door to each other, which is the ultimate dream for those with a very close family. You get to grow up with your cousins, who are your best friends, and it hurts so very much when you lose them.

While I appreciate Kara taking on such a heavy subject, I spent much of the book angry at those in Gage’s life. While it isn’t said, it is clear Gage has PTSD. And rather than confront him, and force him to get help, Gage’s family and friends tiptoe around him. They enabled him, and it was so utterly rage inducing. I just wanted to smack everyone in his life and force them to do better.

Fun fact, if you get treatment ASAP after a traumatizing event, there’s a really good chance that it doesn’t turn into PTSD. There’s a good chance that you don’t have to spend a year of your life in absolute misery, where rage, loss, nightmares, fear, anxiety, and more consume every thought and action. He has no coping skills other than putting snow on the back of his neck, which is not good enough. As a PTSD sufferer, it made me really sad.

On the other side of the coin, Gage’s family and friends are supportive in other ways. They are a close-knit group that rallies around each other. I admired Gage’s passion for cooking, that his creations were creative, and I spent a good deal of the book hungry. I liked Olivia and the possibilities for her and Gage. Though I firmly believe that “relationships work best when you do what is best for you first.” Gage needs to get healthy before dating, taking on a job, and moving away from his support system. But I’d like to think there could be an exception and that there is more for Gage on the other end of this.

Favorite Quotes

“I know real loss now, and how it feels and how it changes who you are, and how it sets everything in your life into its proper place.”

“Sometimes the cost of being heard and seen is cracking open your own worldview to see and hear everyone else, too.”

“Without warning, the happiness disintegrates, leaving my chest raw. The broken feelings smash together in a mess…”

“All these vicious fragments of sadness and injustice scattered around for me to walk into, to step on, to cut my heart on and bleed out.”

“When you’re a kid, reading books about sword-wielding heroes performing great acts of valor, all you feel is longing, like you want to do those things. It’s hard to move that into the real world, to understand what it really means, in the end. Here, in this place. They don’t tell you that your act of valor might be hugging your cousin while he cries because his dad is driving away for the last time…” (this made me cry)

Check out the full tour schedule so you can see the other blogs on the tour at TBR and Beyond.


2 thoughts on “Blog Tour Review: Don’t Ask if I’m Okay, Jessica Kara

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