Title: Here We Are Now
Author: Jasmine Warga
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
Publication Date: 16th November 2017
Format: Physical ARC
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Despite sending him letters ever since she was thirteen, Taliah Abdallat never thought she’d ever really meet Julian Oliver. But one day, while her mother is out of the country, the famed rock star from Staring Into the Abyss shows up on her doorstep. This makes sense – kinda – because Julian Oliver is Taliah’s father, even though her mother would never admit it to her.
Julian asks if Taliah if she will drop everything and go with him to his hometown of Oak Falls, Indiana, to meet his father – her grandfather – who is nearing the end of his life. Taliah, torn between betraying her mother’s trust and meeting the family she has never known, goes.
With her best friend Harlow by her side, Taliah embarks on a three-day journey to find out everything about her ‘father’ and her family. But Julian isn’t the father Taliah always hoped for, and revelations about her mother’s past are seriously shaking her foundation. Through all these new experiences, Taliah will have to find new ways to be true to herself, honoring her past and her future.
I received an advanced reader copy from the publisher via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review. This has not influenced my opinions, or the contents of this review.
This was such a quick read, I sat down to read a chapter and found myself suddenly fifty pages in, with no intention of slowing down. I consider this to be an extremely good sign. Here We Are Now is fast paced, the story takes place over just a few days, and the story flows really well. I quickly became interested in the characters and invested in their story. While this is firstly the story of Taliah, a teen-aged girl who has grown up not knowing her father, the focus of the story is on her developing relationship with her father, and her conflicted feelings about his absence.
Taliah is a very guarded person, who has a very small circle of people that she trusts, much like her mother. This was some thing that I really related to, and made the story feel much more realistic to me, as relationships had to develop slowly as trust was built. The relationships and identity really are the focus here, which I really enjoyed seeing. I also liked how Taliah and Julian are able to bond over music. Their tastes may not be exactly the same, but it’s something that they can relate to, a second language that helps them to understand each other more.
Along side this we gradually get the story of how Taliah’s mother and father met and fell in love. While this is the story being told to Taliah by Julian (her father), we get to read the scenes from her mother, Lana’s perspective. I found these sections to be interesting, and I really liked seeing what happened rather than simply being told. This also allowed for me to understand more of her feelings, which creates balance as she is absent for most of the book. This also added the perspective of a young Muslim immigrant in America for study, something we don’t see enough of in YA literature.
I do have a small gripe. Due to the small time frame of the story, there isn’t a lot of room for development with some of the side characters, and the resolution feels a bit abrupt. There are some plot lines that remain open at the end of the novel, while that fits with the idea that life goes on and new things start every day, it is slightly disappointing. For example I would have liked to have seen more of Taliah working out her relationships with Harlow and her cousins. There’s only so much development that can be squeezed into five days.
On the whole I found Here We Are Now to be a quick, enjoyable read with interesting characters, and a lovely focus on family relationships, and how they change over time. The writing was really easy to get into, and I will definitely be checking out more by Jasmine Warga in the future.
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