Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Summary: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.
My Rating:★★★★☆ ½
My Thoughts: Here We Are Now is a moving YA Contemporary that follows Taliah when she meets her rock-star father for the first time, connects with him and his family, and learns more about her parents past! Plot, writing, characters, and themes all come together to deliver an unforgettable tale of family, love, and new beginnings!
I read Warga’s debut novel My Heart And Other Black Holes & just loved everything about it, from the characters to the writing and was definitely excited to pick up her next book the moment I heard it was announced!
With each page, I just continued to fall in love with this book! From the wonderfully written characters to the mystery that unfolds surrounding the past of Tal’s parents to the importance and power of music that weaves its way into the characters and strong theme of family that is such an important part of this story.
Tal has always had her suspicions growing up that her father may be rock-star Julian Oliver, though her mother usually avoided the topic. When he shows up on her doorstep one day to explain to her that his father is gravely sick. and may be passing away soon, she knows its a lot to take in.
But she knows its her only chance, so she takes the opportunity with her mother out of town on business in Paris, to reconnect with her father and figure out how Julian and her mother Lena met and exactly what happened between them that caused them to split up.
Though her friend Harlow is hesitant at first, she’s convinced to tag along and join Tal on her adventure.
Now she’s in Oak Falls, Indiana meeting Julian’s family, from his mother to the cousins, aunts, and boy next door Toby.
I loved how character-driven this book was! It was beautiful reading how Tal grew close to the father that she had always thought of meeting one day, how music shaped her father’s life and how it inspires her too (with her dream to become a song-writer too).
This novel is also driven by the important theme of family. Not only through learning more about her parents past and getting to know her father better, but through Tal connecting with her father’s family and just reading how happy they are to get to finally meet her. Family is such a huge part of this story that you sense it with each page.
Also told through Lena’s past, we better understand by Tal’s mother grew to avoid talking about Julian and how their relationship shaped her and how it really connects with Tal as she learns more about her family.
The intricacy of the plot and storytelling was done so perfectly and really allows you to solve the mystery of Tal’s parents past as it unfolds for her with each and every chapter!
While the pacing was slow at some points, I felt it really allowed me to immerse myself into the story and really understand the amazing characters.
This is also an OwnVoices story as Tal’s mother is Arab-American! It was also great to read such diversity in this novel with Harlow’s f/f relationship with Quinn that’s mentioned, and Tal who is biracial (1/2 white and 1/2 Jordanian).
The theme of friendship is also makes its way into this story as we learn that Tal feels her friendship with Harlow is slowly fading as she spends more time with her girlfriend Quinn & her band. Tal and Harlow used to be so close, writing and preforming songs with each other or just hanging out. She feels their friendship is slowly fading and you really understand how Tal feels when Harlow later decides to leave join Quinn back home and tell Tal that she shouldn’t only rely on her. I felt bad for Tal, but she takes charge and decides to let Harlow’s tough words inspire her to connect with her family.
Similar to My Heart And Other Black Holes, Warga also explores mental health as Tal overcomes her anxieties and opens herself up to better knowing her father, his family, and having more confidence in herself (and her music).
I loved the writing so much, following Tal’s POV! Not only with the themes of family, music, and love that weave their way into the depths of this story, but also through Warga’s beautiful and subtle writing that brings so many aspects from themes to the characters of Here We Are Now, to life.
While I just adored this book with each and every page, I can’t really explain why but Tal’s friend Harlow was just not really my favorite character 😂 She was pretty pushy at times with getting Julian to open up more and just wasn’t a supportive friend when she decided to leave Tal. I just felt the overall story felt odd with her there, if that makes sense? 😂😂
Here We Are Now beautifully explores the strength and fragility of family, love and how it changes over time. With themes of family, music, love, character-driven storytelling, and an intricate but moving plot, Warga’s latest YA Contemporary is not one to miss!