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Review: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

Book Summary
An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.
This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins. 
Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves. 

From Ann Brashares, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now is thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking—and a must-read novel of the year.

For many including myself, who have come to love the writings of Ann Brashares, The Here and Now is no exception. For those of you who are going into this book with the expectations of her previous, this is a different type of story. What's familiar is the wonderful prose that gracious the pages with her tender storytelling that creates the characters who make the stories that we've come to love and appreciate. This is a book that encourages the reader to embrace their imagination and fall in love with a story whose characters defy the predictable path which in the end overall gives the readers an experience that is worth reading.

Prenna James is not your typical teenager; in fact, she is not really here. Along with a group of people, they came from a different time in the future. They are escaping a world that has taken the lives of millions hoping to return to the past to help avoid. Once they arrive, they do everything to assimilate into the culture of the regular people by adhering to a strict set of rules that seem to cause nothing by fear and intimidation.

While many are hanging out with their friends and crushing on their favorite boy at school, Prenna's life survival depends on doing the opposite. In order to survive, she must never tell anyone where she comes from, never get involved with anyone outside of their community, never do anything that would challenge the course of history and most importantly, never fall in love but everything changes when she meets Ethan Jarves.

Ethan Jarves challenges everything that she knows. How can what seems so right, seem so wrong? As their chemistry over time seems so undeniable, the underlying truth of this forbidden relationships possesses a danger not only to Prenna but the world that cannot be ignore. When Ethan introduces her to a homeless man, there was something about him that drew her near that she couldn't ignore until one day he says something that changes everything she's ever known.

There are certain authors that no matter what they write, I'll read regardless. Whenever I think about Ann Brashares, the stories she creates just take you to a place where you can completely escape into. Going into The Here and Now, I'll admit was a departure from my initial expectations but it was a pleasant surprise. I don't think this book can be compared to anything that she has written before beyond the obvious being well written with memorable characters. What I really loved about this book was the beauty of the story being told. You completely get lost within the different elements that comprise the page turning plot. Prenna and Ethan, are both characters that you will fall in love with what you wish could be versus what can never. They represent an innocence and strength that seem beyond their years enabling you to embrace and connect with them. 

I thought the future elements within the story really awaken your consciousness of certain possibilities. There were many times I found myself thinking of the what ifs. What if you can change something that affects the outcome? I thought it was interesting how detailed and thought out the potential of what could be and the way she presented it in the book really made the experience believable and engaging. Overall, I thought this book was wonderful except for the feeling in the end of wondering what next? I felt left hanging but hoping this is just to keep us guessing for a follow up book. 

Reviewed by Michelle Bowles

Book Information
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 4/8/2014
Pages: 256

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