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Here We Are Now

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Despite sending him letters ever since she was thirteen, Taliah Abdallat never thought she'd ever really meet Julian Oliver. But one day, while her mother is out of the country, the famed rock star from Staring Into the Abyss shows up on her doorstep. This makes sense - kinda - because Julian Oliver is Taliah's father, even though her mother would never admit it to her.

Julian asks if Taliah if she will drop everything and go with him to his hometown of Oak Falls, Indiana, to meet his father - her grandfather - who is nearing the end of his life. Taliah, torn between betraying her mother's trust and meeting the family she has never known, goes.

With her best friend Harlow by her side, Taliah embarks on a three-day journey to find out everything about her 'father' and her family. But Julian isn't the father Taliah always hoped for, and revelations about her mother's past are seriously shaking her foundation. Through all these new experiences, Taliah will have to find new ways to be true to herself, honoring her past and her future.

290 pages, Paperback

First published November 7, 2017

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About the author

Jasmine Warga

12 books2,131 followers
Jasmine Warga is a writer from Cincinnati, Ohio who currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. She is the internationally bestselling author of My Heart and Other Black Holes and Here We Are Now. Her books have been published in over twenty-five countries and optioned for film. Her debut middle grade novel, Other Words For Home, will be published in Spring 2019. Jasmine lives in an apartment filled with books with her husband, two tiny daughters, large dog, and mischievous cat.

**I am only on Goodreads when one of my publishers sets up a Q&A for me, so the best way to contact me is through my website: www.jasminewarga.com or on twitter: @jasminewarga. Thank you so much for reading my books!**

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5 stars
373 (14%)
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1,028 (39%)
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44 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 480 reviews
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,096 reviews17.7k followers
May 7, 2019
To be clear: three stars is a fairly positive rating for me. I think this will work for a lot of readers. It's deep and meaningful in all the right ways that can touch your soul. It's also still an arc version, and with a few aspects improved, I have no doubt many will fall in love. It just wasn't for me.

The book suffers here from an issue I like to call TMHTLD: too much happening, too little development. For example, one theme in this book is Julian's relationship with his father. Unfortunately, they only have one two-page scene and then one scene right before he dies. Most of their relationship is built through exposition. Tom and Julian's relationship needed to be built up more earlier and with less exposition. Same with Harlow and Tal's relationship; we see so little that it's hard to actually care. In general, I liked the ideas more than the execution.

In contemporaries, my main desire is to find characters I connect to. It doesn't matter how deep the book is; if I can't connect, I can't fall in love. I didn't fall in love with the characters here, sadly.
Talliah isn't interesting. She's just ordinary.

That's... kind of how I felt about her. She's got some development and some character, but she was hard to emotionally connect to for me. I can't blame the author for this at all; she's a very different person than I am, far more dependent on others. Her guarded nature, however, is a trait I should've related to. I'd have liked her trust issues to be expanded on, rather than mentioned once and not again. Her character suffers from her traits not being expanded on.

These two issues sort of bled into my biggest issue of all: even though there were parts I really liked, I was just really freaking bored. However, there were enough good parts that this was by no means a total waste, and I'm sure it'll work pretty well for some readers. Let's go into some individual likes and dislikes here.


I think with some people you can just tell you're going to have a history with them. Even if that history hasn't happened yet.

This is another book in which the author makes a slight case for why instalove is okay, and it works... surprisingly well. I didn't roll my eyes when usually I would, so... success. The romance itself, though, is so flat that I couldn't even bring myself to smile when they got together. I'm sorry, but it doesn't belong here. The romance should've been cut to give more pagetime for Julian, Lena, and Tal's family issues to get sorted out.

The writing was good, but had a few issues. These are all fairly minor and nitpicky - Jasmine Warga, if you're reading this, I'm really sorry - but did impact my reading of the story. They are as follows.
1) Sometimes the story will skip forward a day and Tal will tell us what happened yesterday in her internal narration. This style didn't totally work for me.
2) The writing in Lena's story, which was done in third person past tense, felt oddly stilted. The language used in Tal's story didn't bother me at all, but there was something off about Lena's first few chapters. The author hit her speed fairly quickly and from then on it was fine. Again, nitpick, doesn't impact much.
3) The romantic writing is not good. Jasmine Warga has a nice writing style, but some of the romantic lines dropped in this book are more cheesy than romantic. There's a “since you walked in, I've looked at no one but you” dropped on page 219 of my arc edition. It's just cringeworthy to read, and that's disapppointing, because Lena and Julian are a decent ex-couple - it's just that the romance is so, so cheesy that I kept feeling disengaged. Take out a few more cheesy lines and they're a couple I definitely root for.

Lena's story should have been amazing, because she was a character I found easy to connect to. Unfortunately, it ended up seeming out of place. The problem is that Lena's story is meant to build into Tal's - yet her story doesn't flesh out Tal's story, it is firmly her own story. Lena has too little pagetime and development to be a protagonist, but far too little information on Tal to be a side character. She either should've gotten protagonist treatment or not been included at all. Given the interesting themes in her story of immigration, and how much I genuinely liked her, I definitely think she should've been a protagonist. Multigenerational stories are awesome!


• The characters, despite my complaints, weren't terrible by any means. I've already mentioned previously that Lena was easy to connect to, and I have to admit, while I didn't connect to Tal, she was still a fairly good main character. I love reading family drama stories, and the issues between Julian and Lena seem genuine.

• Everything was heartwarming. This is a quiet little story, and everything is very subtle, but it's all very sweet.

I liked the ending a lot! It could've been a total cop-out, but instead it was perfect - clever and a little meta and I respected it so much. Honestly, the ending was half the reason this got three stars instead of two.

The diversity was awesome! I liked the background gay girls not being a big thing, and I liked the subtle themes about immigration and interracial relationships. The latter could've been expanded on a little more, but the development those issues got was perfect for Warga's subtle story.

The writing. I know I mentioned a few nitpicky issues with the writing, but there was a lot to love about the writing too. There's a simple beauty to the quotes. The romance writing is cheesy, but everything else is really nice. I might do a quick listing of quotes after the book comes out to end this review on a nice note.

IN GENERAL: A great book for hopeless romantics, especially fans of Nicola Yoon. This will be perfect for serious fans of The Sun Is Also A Star (a book I actually did really love after reading this). Just not necessarily for me.

Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Youtube-elise-the-bookish-actress">My GR Account
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,051 reviews1,049 followers
June 14, 2018
“But I believe strongly that we all have multiple versions of ourselves. And the true test of love is learning to accept all of those versions, even when it’s messy. Actually, especially when it’s messy. That’s one of the toughest things about love, right? The way people we love are constantly changing and we have to learn how to accept those changes. Love isn’t a constant thing, you know? It’s active. It’s always growing.

Here We Are Now makes up for a good general fiction as it portrays characters at different stages in their lives from YA to NA to adult-adult up to super adult. To me, the reading felt very literary even though it’s also very contemporary and very YA as the story is told in the POV of
Taliah, a half-American, half-Jordanian teenage girl but it also shifts to a third person as it recounts the story of how her parents got together.

It’s so cute although also heartbreaking how Tal uncovers her roots and inevitably her own person when Juilan, the rock star and also allegedly her father, barges in on her one day to whisk her away to Oakland, his hometown and technically Tal’s hometown too where she learns about her father and mother’s history and gets to know her relatives, albeit under a sad circumstance.
The writing is beautiful and easy to read and the element of music is wonderfully portrayed. The words are entrancing and whimsical as if I was reading a fantasy novel but at the same time, I could relate so much.

“I love the way music holds and enhances our memories. Certain songs can always transport me right back to particular moments in my life. It’s like magic.”

“This may sound weird but there are certain songs, like really great songs – you don’t just listen to them, you know? They make you feel like they’re listening back. Like the person who wrote the song heard you. Music makes you feel less alone in that way. It’s proof that someone out there has felt the exact same way you do and they’ve managed to capture it in this perfect blend of words and sound.”

I practically breezed through the book and was only slightly disappointed when it ended so quickly but I couldn’t complain because the conclusion makes perfect sense to the story as it hopefully marks a new beginning for Tal and her dad and possibly for Tal’s parents as well.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,743 reviews5,283 followers
November 9, 2017
It felt like thousands of question marks were floating in the air, and instead of grabbing them out of the air and shaking them for answers, we were simply accepting the uncertainty of the moment.

This was actually a 3.5 star read for me, but the more I pondered it over the two-day span between finishing it and reviewing it, I realized it wasn't quite remarkable enough for me to round up.

Here We Are Now tells the story of Taliah, a biracial white/Arabic teen who's never met her father. She's only working on an educated guess that he might be Julian Oliver, rockstar sensationalist, when the man shows up at her door one day to tell her that her assumptions were correct - and he wants to take her to meet his family, including his dying father.

taliah sahar abdallat
He said that he thought Sufjan Stevens was overrated, which was basically a declaration of war as far as I was concerned.

Tal isn't the most enjoyable narrator in the beginning of the story. She starts the book off fairly amusing and relateable with an excellent depiction of anxiety and paranoia, but those feelings quickly morph into a level of snark and distrust that's not pleasant to read through. Despite the fact that Julian's entire existence points blatantly to a million lies Tal's mother has fed her throughout her life, Tal refuses to place any blame on her mother.

The nice thing about Taliah, however, is how much she grows; throughout the story, through a handful of "tough love" scenarios from multiple friends and family members, she learns that life isn't as black and white as she thinks it is. She grows to slowly trust people and open up, and is forced to come to terms with her unhealthy level of possessiveness over her best friend, Harlow.

julian oliver
As weird as it is to say, I was maybe, sort of, starting to fall in love with my dad. And he was maybe, sort, starting to fall in love with me.

The most unexpected thing about Here We Are Now was how quickly and how much I fell in love with Tal's father, Julian. From the opening of the story, I honestly expected him to be this flighty, dirtbag sort of stereotypical rockstar who would show up, get her hopes up, and then shatter her dreams a few times before disappearing again at the end of the book. That is totally not Julian at all, though.

From the beginning, he's awkward, uncertain, and a little bit shy about learning he's Taliah's father. I won't spoil the fine details for you, but we learn that Julian hasn't been half bad enough to deserve some of the events of the past, and he's actually a pretty well-meaning guy. His banter with Tal is so enjoyable, and I loved the way the we got to see the past through his memories, but they were written in Lena's (Tal's mother) perspectives.

(Not to mention, if I were gay, Harlow would've been way out of my league.)

Harlow is Tal's childhood best friend, who happens to be a lesbian. I loved the idea of Harlow to bits: she's obsessed with baking, she's sassy, she's proud of her sexuality, and she's got a good head on her shoulders. Unfortunately, her actual interactions with Tal and the other characters in the story are cringe-y most of the time, and her "tough love" spiel about not relying on only one person would have been a lot better if it hadn't been laced with her breaking a promise to Tal so she could hang out with her girlfriend.

"I think with some people you can just tell you're going to have a history with them. Even if that history hasn't happened yet."

The romance in this book was one hundred percent the biggest disappointment in the entire story. It felt so incredibly lackluster and out of place that I probably would have rounded up to 4 stars if I could have somehow gone through and edited out the entire existence of this friend-of-the-family character. He's not a bad kid, but it would be so nice to see a YA contemporary every now and then that doesn't end in a couple forming, and this book would have been perfect for that! Totally a missed opportunity.

When she felt like defending herself, she would bitterly think that the hijab marked her as weak in the eyes of the Americans, and she had not come to America to be weak.

First of all, I am not Muslim - or religious at all - and I cannot speak for how good this rep was. I do know, however, that Jasmine Warga identifies as a Middle Eastern/American woman, so the POC rep is own-voice and was so enjoyable to read. Tal's mother's perspectives frequently reflect on her Muslim beliefs and family, as well as how incredibly homesick she is for Jordan. She frets constantly that she is letting her parents down if she doesn't make a name for herself in the States, and there is even a solid bit of conversation about hijab-wearing and eating habits!

Of course, there is also the lesbian rep that I mentioned in Harlow's case, which I found really enjoyable. Harlow is out and proud and has no questions about her sexuality. There are no tropes, or painful moments we commonly see through queer characters in YA contemporary titles.

final thoughts

All in all, Here We Are Now was a fun read, but nothing spectacular. Had it not been for the romantic aspect, I would have given this 4 stars, but it was such a downer that I couldn't justify rounding up the rating. If you're looking for a fun YA contemporary story about family, with some nice diverse representation thrown in, or if you're already a Jasmine Warga fan, I'd recommend picking it up.

All quotes are taken from an unfinished ARC and may differ from the final release. Thank you so much to Balzer + Bray for giving me this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,741 reviews1,307 followers
October 14, 2017
(I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

This was a contemporary story about a girl whose absent rock-star father turned up on her doorstep asking her to meet her dying grandfather.

Taliah was a great character, and I understood her nervousness and anxiety when her rock-star father who she had never met turned up on her doorstep. I also got why it seemed a little strange to be saying goodbye to a grandfather that she had likewise never met before.

The storyline in this was about Taliah’s father asking her to go with him to say goodbye to his dying father, and Taliah then trying to work out where she fit into a family she had never met before. The pacing was pretty good, and I liked the way Taliah and her father’s relationship was something that they had to work on, rather than something that instantly happened.

The ending to this was also pretty good, and it was interesting to see Taliah’s mother’s reaction when she found out what had been going on as well.
7 out of 10
Profile Image for disco.
599 reviews220 followers
January 5, 2018
Things I enjoyed about Here We Are Now

-The diversity
-The cover!
-The unique names - I mean come on.. Harlow? Taliah? Lena? Perfect!
-The references to musical artists
-The feminist vibes
-The idea of your long lost father turning out to be a famous rock star god
-The flashbacks! They were extremely well done and honestly the best part about the book.

Things I didn't enjoy so much

-How immature Taliah was. It seemed like every single person had more life experience than she did. I found her whining a lot.. and it killed me. every. damn. time. She was not an interesting or necessarily relatable character.
-There were too many open ended plot holes that needed to be cut out or given more page time. I mean come on .. we spent like 3 chapters in the beginning of the book just deciding if we should open the damn door for Julian.
-The romance between Taliah and Toby. It was completely unnecessary, rushed, and at some points inappropriate.
-Besides the flashbacks, I felt like the story was getting under my skin and I really just needed something drastic to happen or for it to end.
-There are so many bad tropes, metaphors, and "wisdom" filled sayings that need to go.

Overall - not a terrible book. It had it's quirks and it's charms, but there were too many problems to ignore. I thoroughly enjoyed Jasmine Warga's My Heart and Other Black Holes, so maybe I just had high standards.
Profile Image for MaryJane.
319 reviews76 followers
April 14, 2018
This one really surprised me. It wasn’t really what I was hoping for, which is weird because looking at the synopsis in comparison to the story I read, I’m really not sure how it could have gone any other way.

This story was very emotional, every page made me feel something different. This story is all about stepping out of your comfort zone and figuring out who you are. It’s a story about love, self-love, family love and of course, romantic love.

Jasmine Warga truly has a way with words, I connected with the characters and their emotions even though I was unable to find myself a place in the plot. To be completely honest, the plot of this story didn’t do anything for me. I thought it was a little far-fetched, and found most of the big plot points to be easy enough to spot from the first page. This story stands out because of Warga’s ability to pack so much emotion into the pages of her stories. It was amazing how much I was able to feel and take away from this story despite not being super invested in it. I wish I could find the words to accurately explain the experience I had while reading this book, but even if I could I think it is something that is better to experience for yourself.
Profile Image for Alice-Elizabeth (Prolific Reader Alice).
1,157 reviews161 followers
February 14, 2019
This was a book that I was sent for review a while ago, I'm trying to conquer my backlist readers!

Here We Are Now is a standalone YA Contemporary novel, following teen girl Taliah, who for a few years has been sending letters to her Dad. Her Dad hasn't really had much of a physical presence in her upbringing, as he is a rockstar in a famous band. After her Mum leaves the US for France, Taliah gets the surprise of her life as Julian Oliver shows up on the front doorstep: He is her biological father. His father is dying and wants Taliah to travel with him for a few days to meet family members that she's never crossed paths with before.

Taking place over a few days, Taliah meets family members as well as a neighbour called Toby who tries his best to make her feel comfortable and happy. The novel itself does have LGBTQIA+ representation as Taliah's best friend Harlow is in a relationship with girlfriend Quinn. Taliah's Mum emigrated to the US from Jordan in the Middle-East, Taliah herself is biracial white/Arabic and at times, I did enjoy reading from her POV. I felt that the story itself had so much happening all at once, that just didn't feel fully fleshed out. The length was very short (under 300 pages) and I really wanted to see more of a build-up regarding Taliah's connections with Toby and Julian. The parents POV was an interesting read but at times, it struggled to hold my interest!
Profile Image for Geekyeram.
259 reviews
Want to read
March 25, 2015
After reading My Heart and Other Black Holes I will basically reading ANYTHING she writes. I don't know anything about this book but I'm still excited for it
Profile Image for Leanna Domalik.
28 reviews13 followers
February 11, 2018
“But I believe strongly that we all have multiple versions of ourselves. And the true test of love is learning to accept all of those versions, even when it’s messy.
Actually, especially when it’s messy.”

I LOVE family center contemporary stories. They are so easy for me to get invested in and I love seeing the relationships form and evolve. I just love them so much. Here We Are Now was a really good family contemporary, that also really highlighted opening yourself up and conquering your fears - whatever they may be. We follow Taliah as she meets her rockstar dad Julian Oliver for the first time, when he asks her to come visit his dying father. Tal learns more about her mom, Julian, and herself than she ever expected and she has to learn to reconcile these new truths with what she’s always believed to be true.
Profile Image for Evelina | AvalinahsBooks.
879 reviews446 followers
November 1, 2017
*sighs* I was going to give his 3 stars if it weren't for the last pages. Just barely. But we'll get to that.

Story? Taliah’s mom always told her his dad was dead. But at some point she started wondering if this super star rock musician might be her dad? (I know, but her explanations actually make sense!) So it turns out he is, and he wants to take her to see her granddad before he passes away. Her mom is conveniently in Paris, so Taliah jumps into the adventure.

What's good about the book?
It's diverse - the main character is a second generation immigrant, a Muslim. Her best friend is gay. Then again... I am in no position to judge as I don't even know anyone Muslim, but I was wondering if it would be a relevant character for me, if I was Muslim myself? Because neither Taliah nor her mom are religious or wear hijabs. Her mom drinks alcohol. It's basically all down to "we don't eat pork". I don't know if this is enough for American Muslim girls to identify with. I would actually like to know your opinion, if you are my Goodreads friend and are one. Then again, of course, there certainly ARE Muslims like that in America, so it’s representative of them. So these are just musings.
Secondly - yes, her best friend is gay. But I'm also wondering about that. Best gay friend trope? Not sure. Can't judge. You judge yourself.
Unfortunately, that's basically all I can find that was good. That, and some nice quotes about life. Other than that, it's not very memorable.

What wasn't good?
See, I'm wondering if I'm even the right audience for this book. Maybe I should just ditch the contemporaries? But, thing is... I'm SURE you CAN write a good contemporary without instalove. You can write a good contemporary without making your teen characters be free to go anywhere without asking their parents (what world do we live in? Can kids really do whatever they like now? I doubt that.) You can write one without using 90% dialogue. Or without an out-of-place convenient love interest appearing out of nowhere which basically acts as a crutch to the story, as the listener who is simply helping to advance it.

Actually, it was the instalove that made me deduct that third star. I can not and will not stand by teaching teens that it's alright to kiss someone on the third(ish) day you met them after having talked to them like three times. I refuse to believe a character that's introverted and doesn't trust people just opens up to this random guy the second time they're talking. When I was growing up, teen boys were not so easily approachable, for starters. Second? When did they ever talk deep stuff to girls? ESPECIALLY girls their age. It just... doesn't really happen. It's not right to make teen girls think that it happens. Because that's how you shatter their dreams about relationships.

So writers, please stop doing that. Gah.

One more thing!

I also felt odd about the main character being an indie rock listener, writing jazzy punky songs, and... claiming that Beyonce is perfection. Where do those overlap..? Or am I completely behind the times? :D

I thank the publisher for giving me access to an early copy of the book in exchange to my honest review.

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Profile Image for winnie ʚïɞ.
665 reviews222 followers
May 3, 2020
four stars ∗ i definitely was not expecting to love this book as much as i did, and this book has genuinely surprised me. i fell in love with every single thing about this novel; the plot, the characters, the setting, the dynamics, the banter, the writing...everything. after reading some of the reviews, i figured i’d probably enjoy the book but i wouldn’t “really” love it. boy was i wrong. i just had one of the worst reading slumps, and this is the first book that i could not put down. i read it while eating, while getting ready, at work, at stoplights on the way home. this is the first book in almost two months that has just completely captured my attention.

warga’s writing style is very simplistic but it definitely gets the point (and the feels) across, which is something i very much appreciate. there are times when i want to read a lyrical, complex novel, but for the most part i tend to gravitate towards the simpler side of writing. her character’s were very well written and there was a lot of character development throughout the story that ultimately led to my love and affection for these characters.

even though my long lost father is not a famous rockstar, i found myself relating to tal in many different ways. she struggled to believe that there were different versions of herself, which i relate to on an unbelievable level. all around me i feel like my friends and family are ever changing, but i’m still the same stoic and stagnant person i’ve always been. these different versions of ourselves make up who we truly are, and if we can’t see our different selfs, then we feel like we’re missing something.

all in all, i truly fell in love with this book and i definitely recommend this book to anyone and everyone! even if it doesn’t impact you as much as it did to me, it’s still a cute and fun read for the summertime! ☼
Profile Image for Chelsea.
1,144 reviews593 followers
September 4, 2017
Mini Review: I adored Jasmine Warga's My Heart and Other Black Holes, so I was eagerly anticipating this one. While it is only a 3 1/2 star read for me, it is pretty well written and a solid YA contemporary novel. The writing was sometimes a little too on the nose with references and perhaps a little too quirky, such as these very unrealistic letters that I could never imagine someone sending. I will point out that this book features a lot of diversity, as the MCs mom is an immigrant from Jordan and the MCs female best friend (yay female friendship!) has a girlfriend. Recommended for people who like cute and light YA contemporaries.
Profile Image for Cori Reed.
1,135 reviews377 followers
April 21, 2018
3.5 Stars

This was such a heartwarming book. Totally recommend it!
Profile Image for Bookread2day.
2,310 reviews63 followers
November 7, 2017
Some people show up on your door step who you never expect. For Taliah her rock star dad turns up out of the blue. After Taliah had found her mother's shoe box with clippings of her dad in a rock band she had secretly been writing letters to him asking if Julian Oliver was her father. I quite enjoyed reading this story about family and friendship.
Profile Image for Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd).
1,224 reviews258 followers
September 29, 2017
3.25 Stars
“But I believe strongly that we all have multiple versions of ourselves. And the true test of love is learning to accept all of those versions, even when it’s messy.
Actually, especially when it’s messy.”

I LOVE family-centric contemporary stories. They are so easy for me to get invested in and I love seeing the relationships form and evolve. I just love them so much. Here We Are Now was a really good family centric contemporary, that also really highlighted opening yourself up and conquering your fears - whatever they may be. We follow Taliah as she meets her rockstar dad Julian Oliver for the first time, when he asks her to come visit his dying father. Tal learns more about her mom, Julian, and herself than she ever expected and she has to learn to reconcile these new truths with what she’s always believed to be true.

Things I Liked
I really loved the flashbacks we get throughout the story. They show personality, relationships, and I love that we get to see more of Lena’s Jordanian culture. They really helped develop the characters and provide more backstory and depth. They were probably my favorite part of the story.

I really liked a lot of the characters! I thought Harlow was a great friend, who tried to help Taliah grow and open up about things, even if she was uncomfortable. Debra, Tal’s grandmother is so kind and insightful and warm. She gave Tal some really great advice that she needed to hear, but she was never pushy.

I also liked the moments we get to see Tal and Julian learning more about each other. These pure family moments are the ones that really shined for me and gave life to the story. I also really liked that they bonded over music!

Things I Didn’t Like
I have kinda mixed feelings about Taliah. I understand that Tal’s been put in this weird position and has a lot of confusing and probably conflicting feelings, but I thought she was being purposefully difficult a few times. But she did apologize for that and for being hard to get to know - and I liked that. I think overall I was just a little indifferent to her, which was unfortunate.

I feel like the budding romance between Tal and Julian’s neighbor Toby, was pretty unnecessary, and mostly just took page time away that could have been used to further develop family moments. I mean it was cute, but I didn't really care about it much. A romance wasn't what I was looking for in this particular story.

This such an easy book to get invested in. I loved seeing the family moments and Julian and Tal becoming closer, and while I would have liked more development in the family relationships, I was satisfied with what I got. Here We Are Now is a lovely story of family and discovering where you fit in.

I received a copy of the book from Balzer + Bray via Edelwiess in exchange for an honest review. Quotes are taken from an ARC and are subject to change.
Profile Image for Brooke.
284 reviews141 followers
December 1, 2017
Warga's debut, MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES was one of my favorite reads of 2016. Yes, it is by no means perfect but I rated it 5* because it gave me all the feels. Anxiously awaiting her next release, I kept refreshing my library catalog waiting to be the first to put a hold on it. Perhaps I had too high of expectations...or maybe I've grown as a reader & demand more of my books now. Either way, this was a disappointing sophomore slump. Warga's writing sucked me in, but I was left feeling hallow & relieved that I had finished.

For sixteen years it's just been Taliah & her mom. 3 years ago, Taliah found a shoebox filled with items from her mother's past & it occurs to Taliah that her father is musician Julian Oliver. She decides to send him letters notifying him of this possibility, all the reasons that she truly thinks it's him, only to get no response. Fast forward to the present, where Julian arrives on Taliah's doorstep with no warning. He tells her that his father is dying & he wants her to meet his side of the family, a family she has never known. Blindsided with the fact that she is in fact Julian's daughter as well as wanting to get to know him, she agrees & her best friend Harlow goes with her. Of course, her mother Lena is conveniently in Paris at the time, so there's nothing holding her back from the bonding trip.

Up until this point, the novel seemed like it was headed in an okay/enjoyable enough direction. Right off the bat I loved Harlow; a lesbian who's assured in her sexuality, doesn't hold back her opinion & loves to bake. I was looking forward to her character growth, but unfortunately that fizzled out. Harlow has a discussion with Taliah about letting people in, that just because she has a girlfriend doesn't mean Taliah's friendship is worth less, that people are meant to change & grow. This is great, but she has this conversation while trying to leave Taliah behind at her grandparent's? Eh, not so much. Same thing for Taliah's character. While not the most pleasant MC, the uncertainty she has towards Julian is understandable. Later on, she becomes unbearable, especially as we get to her relationship with Toby.

Toby, the 'boy next door' is a close friend of Taliah's grandparents- immediately the hit it off (instalove alert) & Taliah finds herself knocking down her walls with Toby's help. How can a person who literally was in an obsessive relationship with her best friend & only trusted her & her mother find the strength to trust this "outsider" in only a matter of days? Please. I did like how Taliah & Julian's relationship was something they had to keep working at, but as it evolved their dialogue became more cheesy & laughable. I'll admit I can be a sucker for the long lost father cliche, but this wrapped up too quickly & we don't really see the strain of each character missing out on being a part of their lives for sixteen years. Yes, I wanted more pain. Tears! Jeez, I'm awful.

I enjoyed the story of how Julian & Lena met & fell in love, especially seeing it from Lena's POV. Can't speak for how accurate the diversity representation is, but Warga identifies as a Middle Eastern/American woman, so it was nice to read an own-voice novel. I do wish that there was a bit more info on Julian, seeing things from his side, because the explanation Lena gives to Taliah for not telling her who her father is felt like a cop-out. I felt let down (more like outraged) at her reasoning & even more so with the way the book ended. Like another reviewer said, it all felt too much like a Hallmark movie.

Regardless of my mediocre rating of HERE WE ARE NOW, there is no question that Warga knows how to pen a compelling tale & I will continue looking forward to her future releases. This one just wasn't for me.
Profile Image for akacya ❦.
1,040 reviews171 followers
August 8, 2023
2023 reads: 249/350

2023 tbr: 51/100

when taliah finally discovers who her father (probably) is, she writes him letters introducing herself. but after three years of no reply, she’s given up hope. sure, julian is a very busy, and very famous guy, but couldn’t he take a little time to write his own daughter back? then, when tal’s mom is away on a business trip, he shows up, saying that his own father is sick and he’d like to bring her to meet him. so, away they go, and though tal is nervous, she’s also eager to meet the rest of her family.

i’ve really enjoyed jasmine warga’s other books, so i was excited to dive into this one! i loved all the depth we got on each character. when julian begins telling tal about his relationship with her mom, the story breaks off and we then read a narrative about the two, rather than getting bits of dialogue. this helped me become so much more invested in tal’s parents’ story than i otherwise would have been. we also got to read a bit about taliah’s relationship with her best friend, harlow. though i would have loved more depth about this relationship (especially because of certain problems between them that were brought up), i understand that this book was, first and foremost, about the relationship between taliah and julian.

i would recommend this, and other books by jasmine warga, to YA contemporary readers.
Profile Image for Kim at Divergent Gryffindor.
470 reviews131 followers
November 4, 2017

Honestly, when I first read the synopsis for Here We Are Now, I didn't know whether I would like it or not. However, since it's written by Jasmine Warga, I decided to give it a chance. I'm so glad that it's so much more than what I expected, and I'm happy that I didn't brush it off like I had originally planned.

Here We Are Now is told in alternating chapters between Tal's story, and her parents' (Lena and Julain's) story. The more we get to know Tal and Julian, the more we get to know about Lena as a teenager as well. Reading Lena's chapters, I really got to understand why she brought up Tal the way she was brought up, and why her and Oliver's relationship ended that way.

There are so many things to love about this book. First, I love how romance was not the center of the story. Most contemporary books have romance at its center. Here We Are Now has romance in store for us as well, but it's more of like a side note to the center of the story, which is the family aspect. Not that that makes the romance any less amazing, because I loved everything about it as well.

Second, I love the family dynamics on Tal's father side. From the grandma, Aunt Sarah and the twins, they make for a rowdy family. But you can just see how much they love each other and how much they would do everything for each other. There may be a lot of misunderstandings between them, but at the end of the day, you know they care for each other.

Third, I love how there was growth not just with Tal, but also with Julian and Lena. In this novel, I saw Tal learn how to trust. I saw Julian learn how to understand, to cherish and know when to let go. I saw Lena learn how to become vulnerable in front of those she loves the most. I saw the three of them learn how to own mistakes and work through them, how to forgive others, and most of all, themselves. Each of these characters had issues in the beginning of the novel, but I saw each one of them learn things and become better persons through their experiences, and I absolutely loved that.

Finally, I love how all the characters felt so real. All the characters are not without flaws, and I saw each one of them work through their problems. They felt so realistic precisely because of that aspect, and I became all the more invested in their stories and their growth.

Here We Are Now is filled with themes of forgiveness, understanding, growth, maturity, self-discovery, and family, and I loved every bit of it. By watching the characters learn, I also learned a few things myself. Beautifully written and amazingly told, Here We Are Now is definitely a must-read for everyone!
Profile Image for Anis Suhaila.
138 reviews12 followers
July 13, 2018
You would start this book thinking it has a destination, but actually, it is just a journey of a beginning.
Profile Image for Jenna.
569 reviews237 followers
November 30, 2017
This review appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews.
Thanks to HarperCollins for providing a review copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The best word that I can use to describe Here We Are Now is 'disappointing'. I absolutely loved Jasmine Warga's debut novel, My Heart and Other Black Holes, and was highly anticipating this second novel. Sadly, it failed to hit the emotional heights of her debut novel and didn't really live up to the good concept of the book.

Here We Are Now is about Taliah, who has been brought up by her single mother and has never known her father. She's had her suspicions but when rock star, Julian Oliver, shows up on her doorstep one day while her mother was in Paris for work, Taliah discovers a whole new family she never knew existed. Julian invites her back to his home town in Indiana to meet her dying grandfather before he passes. And the story takes off from there. Taliah and Julian bond as father and daughter, and Taliah learns the story of her parents.

I had such a big problem with the execution of the plot. It was a great concept that would've allowed for a lot of character development and a great family story. I was expecting to be touched emotionally and to connect with all of the characters but I was left feeling quite underwhelmed. The story takes place over 5 short days and the plot progresses much too quickly for any emotional attachment to be made. I felt like the book needed a good 100 pages more for it to be successful. I also found some of the things that happened to be a little bit unrealistic. For example, about 30 minutes of meeting Julian, Taliah agrees to go on a 5 hour road trip with him, without telling her mother (in hindsight, this is probably not so weird considering it's a YA novel...). On top of this, she convinces her best friend to come with her and apparently everything's all good and well with that too. Aside from being a little bit unrealistic, I also thought that a lot of plot points lacked resolution because of how quickly the book progressed. There were tensions between Taliah's mum, Lena, and Julian and these seemed to be largely unresolved. There were also tensions between Taliah and her best friend, but these were apparently just resolved through a quick phone call. I just needed much more from the novel.

I also wasn't very enthused by anything that did happen. The book was mostly spent with Taliah and Julian walking around town and him recounting his past with Lena. Most of the interesting parts of the book for me, were these stories about the past, and I wished that the novel was about Julian and Lena's romance instead of Taliah. There was also a lukewarm, budding romance between Taliah and Julian's next door neighbour, Toby. It seemed like yet another cliche that was not only unnecessary to the plot, but also detracted from the main themes of the novel.

I was not a fan of the characterisation in Here We Are Now. None of the characters were particularly well-developed and I didn't really connect with any of them. My favourite character was Lena and I liked how the author tried to give her some depth by including tidbits of her culture, and her life in Jordan before moving to America. I enjoyed the diversity in this book but I wished there was a little bit more focus on it, rather than some of the unnecessary things in the novel.

Overall, I didn't think that Here We Are Now was a successful novel. It didn't really live up to the potential of the concept but I did enjoy the diversity in it and liked reading about a few of the characters.
Profile Image for Sara (A Gingerly Review).
2,699 reviews160 followers
February 23, 2018
What in the fresh hell was this story.

When it started, I felt it would be an alright story but it quickly went downhill. The entire story I kept thinking, "WHY AM I STILL LISTENING TO THIS?!". I'm a glutton for punishment, apparently. I did not like Taliah and her selfish, self-involved, rude self. I didn't know enough about her parents or the other characters to make a determination on them. I wanted more from her parents POV since their story seemed to be important. I wanted there to be more girth to the story. Did any of that happen? NOPE. I quickly found myself not caring one single bit about what was going on. The story ended abruptly and without any resolution whatsoever.

I can honestly say I felt like I wasted my time with this story.


Full review can be found here: https://agingerlyreview.wordpress.com...

Sit back, my lovelies, and stay a spell. I have a review for you! I recently borrowed this gem from my library because it looked and sounded great. After the story started rolling, I had to constantly check the “information” portion of the audio because I was so sure I had downloaded the wrong book.

Short recap: Taliah is sure her father is the lead singer from a famous music band. She writes him letters after finding a box in her mother’s room that also hinted to him being her dad. He shows up one day and everything changes.

Yeah, that’s a bad recap of the story but it was the best I could do because this was a terrible story for me. I still do not have a good reason as to why I finished because I did not like the characters or the story. I liked the plot but the way it was delivered was not thought out. You want me to believe that when Taliah finally comes face to face with her father – one she was told didn’t want her – she treats him like crap? She did have every right to be upset but she didn’t have to treat him like he was beneath her. Taliah was the main reaosn I did not like this story. She was such a petulant, spoiled, selfish snot that I wanted to slap her. She also thought it was a good idea to leave her home and travel to her Dad’s family’s home without telling her mom? What mental is this girl?! All she knows about her dad was the stuff she found from Googling him and still she doesn’t hesitate to get into a car and go on a road trip with him. I bet you can see my eyes rolling from where you are, can’t you?

Alright, now is the time that I admit that Taliah did not go on this trip alone. She convinced her best friend, Harlow, to go with her. Harlow started out as a great character – the trusting lesbian BFF that has Taliah’s back. While at her grandparent’s house, Taliah and Harlow decide to have a huge blow up argument that ends in Harlow leaving. The argument was poorly timed and badly placed. Not sure it was the best spot for that to happen, even if it did need to happen. Harlow unleashed on Taliah about how she doesn’t open up to let people in, blah blah blah. Harlow may be right but there is a time and place for everything. Having the discussion in another state at your best friend’s grandparent’s house was not the time/place. Harlow ends up going back home and leaving Taliah alone with her father. So much for BFF, amiright?

The other thing that really drove me nuts was the instalove with Toby. Taliah runs into him by accident during her first day and falls instalove/lust with him. Gross. Toby was described to be the “boy next door” so why shouldn’t I love him? Maybe because I don’t like instalove at all. I think it cheapens a story. Plus, how am I supposed to believe that a girl that just found her father and lost her best friend due to having walls up is going to open up to a complete stranger?? I’m not buying for one minute.

While I’m not a total heartless reader, I did like the idea of a long lost father relocating with his child, I did not like it in this story. The story of how Taliah’s parents met was so very rushed and unfulfilling. I stayed with the story mainly to find out what happened so many years ago but it was not ever explained. The closer the story came to a close, I had to accept the fact that nothing was going to be answered. I was not given enough time to learn about the parents and whether I really liked them or not. I don’t think I liked the mom but that feels like a rushed decision since I only learned about her in past tense.

Overall, I am disappointed with what I read. I wanted more depth and more substance from this. I did not like reading about a snot nosed whiny teenager that threw a temper tantrum whenever she didn’t get her way. The ending was super rushed and nothing was resolved. Maybe it was and I just missed it. Either way, I’m upset I did not DNF this book. This was not what I was expecting.
Profile Image for Kate (beautifulbookland).
372 reviews117 followers
August 27, 2017
Julian Oliver is a famous rock star. He has fans all across the globe, has numerous magazine spreads and one day he turns up on Taliah Abdallat's doorstep, confirming Tal's theory that he is in fact her father

Don't make a Star Wars joke, don't make a Star Wars joke

Not only does he drop the dad bombshell, he also tells Taliah that his dad is dying, and Julian wants her to go on a trip with him to say goodbye to the grandad she never got the chance to know.

This book was so sweet! It was such an easy read and wasn't overly angsty (a bit of angst every now and then is good, but I do appreciate the fluff).

Taliah was a good main character to read about, too; she was witty, a no BS kinda gal, but she had her vulnerabilities. She struggles opening up to new people, and is therefore heavily reliant on her best friend, Harlow (who I didn't particularly like; she irritated me).

I also liked how we read from Tal's POV but then would switch to read about Julian and Lena (Tal's mam) and how they met. There was a bit of insta-love here, but it wasn't overbearing or anything.

I think Here We Are Now is a light, sweet book about life and growing up; that people grow up, and grow apart, but that's scary, but also normal.

*Thank you SO much to Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with a copy of this book*
Profile Image for Ashvin.
43 reviews
August 6, 2017
(ARC Review) Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga

Disclaimer: I received this ARC published by Harper Collins courtesy of Kinokuniya Malaysia in exchange for my honest review.

Here We Are Now is a story centered on Taliah Sahar Abdallat, a 16-year-old who lives and breathes music. She grew up with her very-secretive-about-her-past mother, Lena, who won’t say a word about who her dad really was. But when Tal finds a shoebox filled with old letters from indie rock star Julian Oliver-she begins to piece the story together. After countless attempts of trying to find the truth, Tal begins to lose hope, until one day, he shows up at her doorstep.

Tal has many questions, but before she can decide whether or not to be furious or to throw herself into his arms, he asks her to go on a trip with him to meet her long-estranged family and to say good-bye to her dying grandfather. She ultimately decides to follow him, and through spending time with Julian and his family, her family, Tal begins to untangle her parents’ secret past and discovers a part of herself she never recognized before.

WOW. OKAY. This was something different. I loved Warga’s ‘My Heart and Other Black Holes’ and initially imagined her second book to be something similar. So when I read the preview of this ARC, I was shocked yet thrilled. I must say, I’m glad of everything this turned out to be.

This novel was rather fun to read and I enjoyed every character present (plus point for diversity). Each new character you’re introduced in this book has a purpose to be there, which made everything fit together. There is a slight romance between the protagonist and “cute-boy” Toby, which felt refreshing, instead of overbearing. However, I did feel as though the ending was rushed and the author could easily extend the book by another 50 pages or so to have it end better. I have quite a number of questions waiting to be addressed, like what happens now with Julian and Lena, will they end up on better terms with one another? What about Tal and Toby? Although I don’t see this happening, Warga could easily write a second book to this one. I must add that my copy is 290 pages, while the version out this November is 304, so maybe we see some extra progress.

All in all, Here We Are Now is a great easy read for all readers, particularly if you’re one searching for a story of family, secrets, and the power of songs. Jasmine Warga did well with this one, as expected.

Profile Image for Lauren  (TheBookishTwins) .
467 reviews202 followers
January 11, 2018
Disclaimer: I received a free copy via Edelweiss for review purposes.

Taliah Sahar Abdallat loves music. It helps ease the pain of never having known her father. Her secretive mother, who was born in Jordan, won't say a word about her past and who Taliah's father is. When Taliah finds an old shoebox filled with letters from rock star Julian Oliver to her mother, she pieces it together. Her father in Julian Oliver. Rockstar. She attempts to contact him, but she hears nothing for three years until one day, out of the blue, he shows up at her front door. He asks her to meet her estranged family, including a dying grandfather who she has never met, and he wants her to meet him before he passes. As Taliah spends time with a family she never knew she had, she begins to untangle her parents' complicated history, and in the meantime learns things she never knew about herself.

I have heard fantastic things about Jasmine Warga, and I do think this was a lovely contemporary novel about a girl finding a family she didn't know existed and learning to open up. I adored Taliah, she was such a fantastic protagonist. I enjoyed her passion for music, her complicated relationship with her father, and her complicated, but loving, relationship with her mother. I adore books about family, and this one definitely does it well.

I also very much enjoyed the flashbacks to her mothers past, and even though we didn't see much of her in the present day, it was really nice having another story run alongside Taliah's. I think what brought this down for me was the romance between Tal and her grandparents next door neighbour. I can't remember his name, so that doesn't bode well. Not only did it feel kind of like insta-love, but it felt so out of place in a book I was hoping would focus on family. This isn't necessarily a bad things if you're more of a fan of romances, I just felt like there seemed to be a bit of wasted potential in exploring the family dynamics a bit more.

I do think fans of Jasmine Warga and of contemporary YA generally will have no problem loving this book.
Profile Image for Andrew.
1,553 reviews91 followers
April 27, 2017

4.5 stars ***I read an ARC of this book through work***

There's two stories happening at once in this story; Taliah meeting her father and going on a quick road trip with him to meet her dying grandfather, and the backstory of how he and her mother met, how their relationship came to be, and how it unraveled.

I was so invested in Julian and Lena's relationship (Taliah's parents). Their struggles felt relatable and close to me. I love their love, and I feel their pain. Ultimately, it truly shows the full character of Taliah's parents, and reminds all of us that our parents have their own lives, stories, and adventures before us kids came along, how generations are an endless, beautiful cycle. Their story had Jeff Buckley's "Lover You Should've Come Over" on repeat in my head as I read their parts, and I pictured Julian's songs about Lena to be as beautiful and heartbreaking as that song is.

My only complaints... didn't really care for Toby and felt he was unnecessary, and I also feel like the book should've gone on for a little longer. I wasn't satisfied with the ending. Would've loved more; but that's also just another way of saying I was really invested in these characters, which makes it a really good book. The romantic in me just wants more.

Profile Image for Luke Reynolds.
653 reviews
November 6, 2017
ARC Review (9/22/17, received from Sarah Prineas)

"Jasmine Warga’s newest tells the story of the secrets families hide in a simple yet breathtaking way."

My full review for Here We Are Now is up on my school newspaper's website.

After Reading:

I adored this simple yet heartfelt and beautiful book. That's it for now.

I'm hoping to write my thoughts out in the ARC tomorrow morning with a full review to come soon. I'll see if I can get this in the print edition of my school newspaper that releases on November 10th, the same week this comes out, or I can put it on the website earlier. We'll have to wait and see.
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