The Here and Now by Ann Brashares (2014)
Suggested age range: 13 and up (Random House, 256 pages)
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Source: e-ARC from Net Galley
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Time Travel
The Book: It’s 2014, but not all who live in this year were born in the past. Some of them, including seventeen year-old Prenna, were born many years later in the future. Prenna and her “community” have traveled into the past, in order to escape the horrors of the future world they lived in, rampant with plague and death. However, as she gets to know a classmate, Ethan more, and meets a homeless man with mysterious information, Prenna begins to question what her leaders are telling her. As she and Ethan discover more, they realize they have to change the present in order to fix the future. At the same time, Prenna and Ethan find themselves falling in love, even in the midst of recognizing the impossibility of their connection.
Spirituality in The Here and Now: Making sacrifices for people who have not yet been born is a spiritual aspect of the story, and one I think could raise some fascinating discussion. Should people be allowed to do something bad for the greater good? Is this ever justified? Should those of us in the present exploit our resources when it means great cost to the future inhabitants? And that ending!! I won’t give anything away, but I do think there is an aspect of spirituality to discuss there.
Who Should Read This Book: If you enjoy time travel and science fiction or science fantasy, you may be interested in this story. Though some themes and devices were similar to other fantasies I had read, the premise was refreshing enough that I enjoyed the story and raced along with Prenna and Ethan as they sought to make things right.
The Final Word: I loved Ann Brashares’ book, I Am Memory, so was really excited to see that she was publishing a new young adult novel, and a time travel one at that! Though I was interested in whether Prenna and Ethan would be successful in their quest to set things right, I sometimes felt that they were more consumed with one another than the challenges of the danger in front of them. At the same time, teen readers are drawn to the depiction of romantic relationships in young adult novels. At times, I was confused about what issues caused problems in the future and how Prenna and Ethan’s actions affected those issues. Though I enjoyed reading this novel, it wasn’t one of my favorite time travel books. I could certainly see Brashares developing a sequel, and perhaps that would clear up some of my confusion. Though I did have a few hang-ups, I would still recommend the book!