Here We Are Now by Jasmine Wanga (292 pages)
Overview: Have you ever wondered what it would be like to discover your dad was a rock star? A dad you have never met or heard your mother speak of. A dad you discovered through your own sleuthing and sent letters for three years with no reply. Then he shows up on your doorstep ready to take you on a road trip to meet an extended family you'd never even imagined. All while your mother is away in Paris. Whether you've imagined this scenario or not, Jasmine Wanga has crafted it into a fun, YA contemporary to follow her emotionally wrenching debut, My Heart And Other Black Holes. Overall: 4
Characters: 4 I enjoyed the characters. They were all built well into sturdy pictures and interacted well with each other. I loved both Taliah, the main character, and her best friend Harlow. Their relationship really explores change and how hard that can be for some people. It really made me identify with Tal's character.
I also loved the family relationships this book was so centered on. Tal and her mother are very close, and I really enjoyed their mother-daughter relationship and friendship. I also loved the exploration of their own immigrant identities as Lena is originally from Jordan and Tal is the daughter of an immigrant from an Arabic speaking country. Lena's character in the story about her and Julian's relationship may be my favorite of the book.
It was very interesting to see Tal and Julian build a relationship. Parental bonds just seem to always exist, so building one at sixteen is uncharted territory for all involved. It is beautiful to watch as Tal becomes part of a whole new family, experiencing the kind of extended family she'd never had on her mom's side.
The only reason I detracted points was for Toby who is the love interest. I felt the story would have been stronger if his part had been removed.
Plot: 4 I really loved this story. Intersecting Tal's experiences in Oak Falls and her parent's love story made a beautiful and balanced story. The only thing I would have changed was to center on Harlow and Tal's relationship more throughout. It is very well developed at the beginning, but halfway through Harlow disappeared to bring Toby out of the shadows to give our character a love interest. The romance is never developed very well and is not compelling or believable, unlike the foundation that was established with her relationship with Harlow. It would have been stronger as simply a family and friendship novel which YA does not have enough of!
Writing: 4 Wanga has a very clear voice across all of her novels, which I really appreciated. Much like when I pick up a John Green, I picked up this book and knew it was definitely written by Jasmine. While a touch understated and simple for my taste, I think that it does add a beautiful layer of storytelling letting sparse details build together slowly. Clear pictures came through my mind throughout. I also loved the focus on family, friendship, and music!
If You Liked This Book:
Check out Who's That Girl (http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/12/whos-that-girl.html) which shares the same theme throughout, though, in this 5 star novel the main character is the subject of a new, breakout song.
Links Of Interest:
16 Ways To Break a Heart: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2018/01/16-ways-to-break-heart.html
The Light We Lost: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2018/01/the-light-we-lost.html