Reviewed by EL de Jesus
HERE WE ARE NOW
By Jasmine Warga
304 pp. Balzer + Bray.
It appears as if all those destined to be great, become great because of one thing: an epic origin story.
But what’s a sixteen-year-old girl to do when half of hers is missing? Why of course, do the only sane and natural thing one could. “Research”. By harnessing her innate stalking abilities—at a level that’s sure to put any jealous girlfriend to shame—Taliah Sahar Abdallat, closeted musician, finds out one shocking hunch.
As it turns out, the missing half of her story came plastered on the cover of Rolling Stone. That’s right, her secret dad (allegedly), was none other than the front liner of (not so secret) indie rock royalty, Staring Into The Abyss. Naturally, a reunion was in order. Or at least, Tal thought it was.
Three years into quitting after all those unreplied letters, low and behold Julian Oliver appears in front of Tal’s doorstep. And as if that confirmation wasn’t baggage enough, he invites her back to his hometown to meet her dying grandfather. So yes, not only did she get her missing part of the story, she was on her way to meet its characters firsthand. With her best friend Harlow in tow, (girlfriend drama included) she sets out on a roadtrip with a rock star to piece herself together.
Aside from the kickass idea of “what if my missing dad was famous,” what caught my attention most was how Jasmine Warga was able to write Tal’s story so effortlessly. There’s a richness in the backstory of her parents’ past, a richness in the origin of how they—and how she—came to be that was all too compelling. It’s reminiscent of one of those ghost stories, told in front of campfires and s’mores while your hands grip the edges of your sleeping bag and the audience collectively gasps, “then?” It got me so invested that I flipped through most of the pages, just to find out when I’d get another dose of Lena (Tal’s mom) and Julian’s backstory.
The shifts between the present and past has been refreshing, and it gives the story a little more depth as you can understand more about the characters, their reasons, their differences and more importantly, where they come from.
Ultimately, what made me fall in love with this book was how subtly Warga was able to incorporate the intricacies of parentage, not only with Tal’s relationship with Julian and Lena, but also with Julian’s estranged one with his mom and dying dad. It gives you a sense of both longing and understanding, so much that you might want to give your old ‘rents a hug.
Add in a few hidden gems like potential romances and songs that are described so vividly as if you could hear them from the pages themselves, Here We Are Now is the perfect companion for when you’re looking back at your own origin story, or writing it down yourself.
Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga will be available soon at Fully Booked. To reserve a copy in advance, email us at email@example.com.
EL de Jesus is a notorious book sniffer whose writing is littered across messy notebooks, literary publications, and his white-walled room. When not in writing, this self-proclaimed old-person-in-a-boy’s-body does art, creates a dozen photo series, and makes mixtapes with those cheesy covers. He has four dogs and two cats.
[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fully Booked. Then again, we love our authors anyway.]