by Sara Bennett Wealer
“‘But here’s the thing. If this whole site is a joke, how come you’re only in, like 20 percent of it? Someone would have had to doctor up hundreds of pics of everybody else, too. It seems like a lot of work for a prank on just one person.’
‘Maybe other people got the link too, not just me.’ ‘No. If something like this was going around, people would be talking.’
I click some more. ‘But what IS it?’ She scrolls and scrolls. She goes back to my Instagram, then back to the reunion site. Her whole being radiates excitement as she opens picture after picture.
‘I know this sounds unreal, Skyler, but maybe it’s exactly what it looks like.'”
Ratings & Reviews
Book Grade: A-
Now and When is an unexpectedly sweet book. I didn’t know if I should expecte realistic fiction, romance, or a coming of age story, so when it kind of combined all three with a twist that came in the form of a futuristic reunion website, I was pleasantly surprised. Skyler is a bit dramatic and over the top – perhaps my one real criticism of the book – and I totally saw where the story was going, but the way that it is written, I hardly minded. There were lots of little twists that came along that made the story oh-so-intriguing.
I normally steer clear of YA romance, but I appreciated that this had serious conversations about mental illness, socioeconomic status, and family expectations. Yes, there are some truly stereotypical characters, but by and large, the characters are unique and intriguing. I particularly like the sensitivity shown toward Harper’s character as she battles with depression and tries to navigate being a normal teenager after a decidedly not-normal experience.
I appreciated the novelty of this story overall. What would you do if you could see your future and it was not at all what you expected? How can you change your fate?
Movie Rating: PG
Now and When has moments of giddy teen YA magic, but a few moments when maturity is required. Skyler’s mom works at Planned Parenthood and makes a few jokes about it that dance across political lines; this might be a point of contention for some kids. Skyler also talks about losing her virginity with her boyfriend – he is hoping it will happen after prom, she is having doubts. While there are no specifics given, it is a more mature scene. Another more mature scene occurs later in the book and involves two characters almost getting intimate, but not quite getting there. Now and When doesn’t totally normalize this behavior, but it also doesn’t make it seem totally unexpected.
This book does deal with some serious themes – how do our present decisions impact our future selves, how can changing perceptions lead to changing relationships, etc. – but it never quite becomes graphic or indecent. Ideally, though, this would be read by older YA romance fans.
Would I Buy This for My Library: Yes
Now and When is a one-of-a-kind YA romance. It has hints of realistic fiction and bits of a coming-of-age story (as Skyler realizes how everything is adding up to a future she doesn’t necessarily want), but is cleverly done. While the central focus is prom (and at times, this gets a bit over-the-top), the twists with the future reunion site and the budding bond between Skyler and Truman, this book will appeal to a wide audience.
Skyler is your average high school student – struggling in math, excited for prom, and thrilled to be dating one of the most popular guys on campus. She also has an above average rivalry with Truman, a classmate who seems dead set on turning every English discussion into an argument. In Now and When, her life is going swimmingly – especially when her boyfriend, Eli, does a huge prom-posal complete with a singing quartet – until Skyler’s on-the-brink-of-death phone shows her a link to a 10-year high school reunion for her class. This link to the future can’t be real…can it? Because if it is real, then she and Truman end up happily married. But how is that even possible when he makes her life so miserable with all of his pompousness and argumentativeness?
Skyler tries to ignore the website, but things get tricky when the prom venue that her friend Jordan worked so hard to secure seems like it will be torn down and turned into a parking lot by none other than Eli’s father as his company moves into town. Yes, this could provide jobs to a town in need, but this will take away the beloved garden venue where Skyler’s best friend Harper volunteers. In order to protect the garden, Skyler must team up with Truman – the captain of the debate team – and speak at the city council meeting that will decide the fate of the garden.
Skyler can’t possibly work with Truman, but as things unfold in their council meeting research and between Eli, Jordan, and Harper, the future website continues to change. Is Skyler changing her destiny by her choices? This unexpectedly charming story examines how all of our decisions today can have surprising implications for our future. With charming characters and a futuristic twist, this YA novel has romance, friendship drama, and personal growth. Now and When is a story that will hook you early on as you root for Skyler to make all the right choices.
Book Talk Questions:
- Why is the Blessing mansion and garden so significant to Harper? What does Skyler fear if the garden is torn down?
- What does Skyler learn about Truman’s family? How does that explain why he acts the way he does?
- The future reunion site changes as Skyler makes certain decisions. What does her life look like when she first visits the site? How does it evolve after a few decisions? How does it impact people currently in her life?
- Why does Skyler team up with Truman for the city council meeting? What does she realize about Eli while working with Truman?
- What last-ditch effort does Skylar convince Truman to undertake? How does it go? What happens to Truman as a result of them trying to save the garden?
- What is Jordan’s end-of-year surprise? How does this make sense given the future reunion site?
A Perfect Read for Fans Of…
- Come Find Me by Megan Miranda
- Sadie by Courtney Summers
- The Twin by Natasha Preston