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The Here and Now

Review

The Here and Now

SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS author Ann Brashares offers readers something strikingly different --- a time travel novel in which a visitor from the future becomes a little too intimately involved with the present.
 
In her Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series and other novels for teens and adults, Ann Brashares has become known as a skillful chronicler of teenage romance and burgeoning self-awareness. Her characters are often complex, creative and a little self-deprecating. Of course, these novels are firmly set in the contemporary world we're familiar with --- as is Brashares' new novel, THE HERE AND NOW. But this newest work also represents a surprising departure for Brashares, even as she introduces readers to the kinds of characters and romances they've come to expect. For the romance at the heart of THE HERE AND NOW isn't just between any two teens --- it's between a boy from our present and a girl from the future.
 
Ethan has been fascinated by Prenna ever since he first saw her, seemingly coming out of the mist by the creek where he was fishing. The beautiful, mysterious girl with the number on her skin has stayed in his memory --- especially when she lands in his high school math class a few years later.

A fast-paced, romantic thrill ride of a novel, one firmly grounded in the kinds of sensitive characterizations and appealing romances that have given Brashares her well-deserved reputation.
 

Ethan and Prenna become friends, but Prenna is always careful to maintain a strict distance --- both physically and emotionally --- between them. Doing anything else might jeopardize everything she and her fellow immigrants have managed to accomplish. For they're not immigrants from another place, but from another time --- a future where climate change and a series of blood plagues have brought humanity to the brink of destruction. Prenna and the other immigrants have come back to 2014 to make a fresh start --- but they must abide by a dozen or more strict rules in order to avoid disrupting time or endangering "time natives" like Ethan.
 
Ethan has long suspected that Prenna was different --- let alone that "emerging from the mist" business, what kind of kid doesn't even know the rules to card games like Crazy Eights or War? And when he learns about her origins and about the rules that govern her life, he urges her to be more skeptical about how and why the rules control her. Soon he's convinced her to ditch her glasses (which the powers that be may be using to spy on her) and to stop taking her pills (which they may be using to keep her weak), and to help him stop an impending murder that may have a link to the future direction of society --- both Ethan's and Prenna's.
 
Time travel novels are, by nature, chock-full of paradoxes, and THE HERE AND NOW is no exception. It's probably best for readers just to sit back and let the action wash over them (and there's plenty of action to be had!) rather than taking too much time to question plot devices or even the basic principles of time travel as they apply to Prenna and her kind. That being said, readers who can suspend disbelief are in for a fast-paced, romantic thrill ride of a novel, one firmly grounded in the kinds of sensitive characterizations and appealing romances that have given Brashares her well-deserved reputation.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on April 9, 2014

The Here and Now
by Ann Brashares

  • Publication Date: April 8, 2014
  • Genres: Youth Fiction
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press
  • ISBN-10: 0385736800
  • ISBN-13: 9780385736800