Reviewed by: Amy
Rating (out of 5): 3 stars
What would you do if you knew the future? If you knew the desolation that was to come, would you try to change it? Or by changing it, are you thereby dooming it further? Ann Brashares brings up many interesting thoughts on the future in The Here and Now.
Prenna and her family are from a not-too-distant future where a blood plague has killed off countless and the Earth’s resources are no longer stable. They travel back in time to 2010 in order to live and start again but the rules set for them prohibit forming any emotional or physical relationships with ‘time natives’.
Ethan was at the lake when Prenna came through time. He saw the phenomenon and watched her walk away into the unknown. He thought about her every day until two years later when Prenna appeared in his class at school. Prenna doesn’t seem to remember the incident by the lake, but nevertheless, Ethan can never forget it, so he tries to insinuate himself into Prenna’s life whenever possible.
When Prenna is confronted with a situation that hasn’t happened yet, but could be the moment that tips the scales for the future, she needs to decide if the rules are truly meant to be followed or if the chance for a better future is worth the risk.
I liked the relationship between Ethan and Prenna. The main story starts four years after Prenna has arrived so we have to fill in the blanks on their early relationship, but at this point in the story it’s clear how they feel about one another. Prenna knows that to ensure Ethan’s safety, as well as her own, she can’t tell him the truth about herself. Because the travelers are still supposed to appear ‘normal’ Prenna closes herself off from Ethan as much as possible, never allowing herself to get too close.
Seeing as how Ethan witnessed Prenna’s arrival, he already knows there’s something different, he just doesn’t know what specifically. The Here and Now wasn’t filled with all the teen angst that could come up being in this situation. I liked that. Ethan never expects more from Prenna than what she can give. He’s very patient and hopeful in regards to what he wants their relationship to be. Their actual feelings for each other, despite what is going on around them, are very sweet and in their own way simple.
On the other hand, I felt the whole issue with time travel wasn’t given its due. Brashares introduced some very interesting twists, but the follow through would usually end up non-existent or fall very flat. I think that the book was far too short and could have used more pages filling in details about the future our travelers came from as well as the ‘new future’ created the moment they decided to go back in time. Because regardless of the rule to ‘respect time’s integrity and her natural sequence’ the simple fact of these people now being in a past they weren’t previously a part of, changes the future; whether for good or bad is yet to be seen.
I feel time travel can always be a tricky topic to handle. With multiple variables and possible outcomes oftentimes things get confusing and messy. The Here and Now was definitely saved for me by the poignant relationship between Ethan and Prenna.
Sexual content: References to sex