“Here We Are Now” is a new young adult contemporary novel that, while touching and well done in some aspects, is overwhelmed by other less savory elements that crowd the rest of the story.
The novel, by Jasmine Warga, is set up to be a specular and heart-warming story about a girl who reconnects with her biological father. Yet, by the time it gets around to executing this effectively about halfway through the book, the entire story has been tainted from various distractions in the first half.
Taliah Abdallat is 16 years old and has never met her father, Julian Oliver, the lead singer of Staring Into the Abyss. One day, he shows up and asks Taliah to travel with him to say goodbye to her dying grandfather and to begin to develop a father-daughter relationship between them. She agrees to go, and throughout the novel she learns about what happened between her parents and how she fits into everything.
What this book does a really great job of is not being completely stereotypical and resembling something that seems like it was made for a Lifetime movie. Instead, there are parts of the story that stand out as aspects that would be unique to only this book.
An interesting element of the novel was the formatting. The main plot of Taliah and her father is broken up by different segments that piece together the history of Julian and Lena, Taliah’s parents, and what happened between them.
While this element of romance between the parents is really well done and carried out nicely into the present plot of the book, there’s an instant romantic interest in this book that didn’t add anything significant to the story. The best that could be said about Toby’s role in Taliah’s life is that it’s a parallel to the story her parents share. Other than that, the supposed growth Taliah undergoes from the little time she spends with him seems incredibly forced, and he himself is not even in the story that often. He only appears when needed as a convenient tool for something else to happen or develop.
A major drawback to this book was the thousand and one different social and political agendas throughout the first half, none of which came across as genuine. All of the things touched on are legitimate issues society needs to improve on, but none of them were given the proper time and depth in the story, nor did they relate in any way to what was happening in the plot. The overall effect of this was disjointed fragments that stuck out like sore thumbs without either justifying why they were there or making a positive impact on the reader about those issues.
In spite of these qualities of the book that detract from its overall value, the actual composition of the words Warga uses is beautiful. They’re all strung together to make a seamless image of what is happening in the book, both in the physical sense and the metaphorical sense of what is happening emotionally to the characters and the tone of the story.
Yet, I think some readers will enjoy the aspects of the book that I didn’t enjoy. So if the things I said weren’t good in the story are things that usually don’t bother you, then this is a touching book about family with multiple romances that would be a good contemporary read.
The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch.