One day, while Taliah’s mother is out of the country, Julian Oliver, the famed rock star, shows up on Taliah’s doorstep. This makes sense – kinda – because Julian Oliver is Taliah’s father, even though her mother would never admit it to her.
Taliah and her best friend Harlow embark on a journey to Julian’s hometown, where Taliah meets Julian’s father – her grandfather – who is nearing the end of his life. 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.
Young Adult / Contemporary / 304 pages
Ever since reading (and loving) My Heart and Other Black Holes, I’ve been eagerly anticipating this new novel by Jasmine Warga. Here We Are Now did not disappoint- This novel is about love and loss, and hellos and goodbyes. It will pull on your heartstrings, while being grounded in reality.
The characters are the highlight of this novel. They each have their shortcomings and mistakes, which make them all the more real and loveable. I also love how the relationships between the characters change and grow over the course of the novel.
“I think with some people you can just tell you’re going to have a history with them. Even if that history hasn’t happened yet.”
Taliah lives a simple life with her mother. She is a kind-hearted girl, though she builds a wall between herself and the other people in her world. The only people that she lets in are her best friend and her mother, Lena. Taliah has never met her father, though she is convinced that he is no other than Julian Oliver, the lead singer and guitarist of a famous rock band. One day, Julian appears on her doorstep and invites her on a road trip to meet his father who is dying. At first, Taliah is hesitant to trust Julian. After all, how can you trust a father who has never been in your life? As the story progresses, their relationship strengthens.
This novel also tells the story of Lena and Julian’s relationship, how they met and fell in love, and the events that occurred leading up to the present day. Lena was a modern woman who was ambitious and independent. She immigrated to American from Jordan, choosing to pursue her dream while giving up her family and her home. Julian loved music from the bottom of his heart, and he would rather be a musician than carry on his family business. Lena and Julian found solace in each other, because they were both defying their roots in pursuit of a dream. I absolutely loved that there is focus on the parents in this novel- Yes, once upon a time, parents were teens and young adults, and they had their own love stories too.
He reminded her of America. Of her American dream.
There are some elements of romance, but it does not dominate the story. This is refreshing because it is true in real life as well: romance plays a significant part of our lives, but it doesn’t occupy all of our waking moments. I love that there is focus on other important relationships, such as those between family and friends.
I loved Jasmine Warga’s writing style in this novel. There are few characters, and the story is a simple one. Even the scenes and dialogue are written in a simple style that flows. However, it is a story that is rich in meaning, that made me reflect about people and relationships. This novel reminds me that a great story can be written using simple language.
“I like trees.”
“And what do you like so much about them?”
“They’re good listeners. And they know how to let go.”
The Bottom Line:
Here We Are Now is a subtle and heartfelt story that will make you smile, maybe even shed a tear (or two). It is guaranteed to give you the warm and fuzzies.