In her latest novel, The Here and Now, Ann Brashares offers a new twist on a familiar trope. Prenna, along with her mother and friends live closed off from the world of the early 21st century. Having traveled back from a post-plague, climate-ravaged future, they intend merely to live out the remainder of their lonely lives in peace. No one can know who they are, or from where they have come. There’s just one problem, someone —Ethan Jarves, the sweet and gentle boy in the school Prenna has enrolled in– saw them arrive. Now as she struggles to understand what the homeless man Ethan has befriended has to do with her community’s safety, she and Ethan must struggle against time to prevent the disaster that sent time spiralling down the wrong path in order to create a better, safer future.
Once again, Brashares offers keen awareness of young adults as her characters grope through the darkness dealing with unfamiliar emotions and situations, navigating first love and the loss of loved ones. The situation she creates, hovers on edge of science fiction– the reader will find no long-winded explanations of the possibilities of time travel here– and offers just enough mystery and tension to keep the reader guessing about how/if the star-crossed “lovers” will find a life together.
Although the story starts off slowly, (Brashares includes just a bit of overt moralizing about how the “time natives” of 2014 could knowingly ignore the science that proves humanity is on a crash course with climate disaster) and Prenna’s marose initial personality put me off at first, Brashares ably overcomes those slight weaknesses by the end. When Prenna finally acts she proves herself to be a worthy heroine, leading the reader through an emotional journey from despair toward hope.
Well worth recommending to readers 12 and up.
Sexual content = 1/2 S — mildly open discussions about sex.
Violence = V several violent deaths.
Questionable behavior = 0