The Here and Now

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
The Here and Now Book Poster Image
Teen time traveler fights for better world in smart sci-fi.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Could lead to some good discussions about the possibility of time travel and whether there's a single set future or many possibilities. Teen readers also could explore real-life global warming and whether they think enough is being done to prevent the effects that Prenna experiences in her future world. Would they do anything differently if they were in charge?

Positive Messages

Prenna ultimately decides to appreciate the moments she has now -- and hope that there will be a better future: "No matter how our hearts break, we bend towards life, don't we? We bend towards hope."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Prenna and Ethan are smart and brave. They do their best to figure out the right thing to do, even sacrificing their own intimate relationship for fear of hurting the world. 


There is some implication that time travelers who speak out against their community are kidnapped or murdered; Prenna is imprisoned in a rural farmhouse after raising suspicions with the community leaders. Prenna's dad is murdered, and she gets covered in blood while he's dying. She has seen death in her own time, including the death of her younger brothers. Prenna and Ethan try to stop a murder of a woman, but she gets shot anyway; Ethan shoots the man in the leg to detain him. Prenna worries that Ethan will die after seeing his obituary in a future newsletter. 


Some kissing, and Prenna admits to having lustful thoughts about Ethan. They spend the night together, cuddling in the car and in a hotel room, and Ethan reaches under her shirt. He tells her that if he could have sex with her, he wouldn't mind dying. They make plans to have sex, but after a man spreads a plague by having sex with time natives, she cancels on him.


One "ass," one "bastard," and a few uses of "hell" and "s--t."


Some mentions of snack products, such as Twizzlers, Fritos, Funyuns, Snickers, and Mallomars, as well as brands such as Chipotle, IHOP, the New York Times, YouTube, and Target.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An 18-year-old Ethan uses a fake ID to buy sangria for himself and Prenna to drink at dinner. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Here and Now by Ann Barshares (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) is a science-fiction novel that blends the catastrophic effects of climate change with time travel (from the 2090s to 2010), adventure, and teen romance. It includes some violence, including an implication that time travelers who speak out against their community are kidnapped or murdered. Main character Prenna is imprisoned in a rural farmhouse; a man is murdered and his daughter gets covered in blood while he's dying. Prenna has seen death in her own time (the 2090s), including the death of her younger brothers from a blood plague. Prenna and love interest Ethan try to stop a murder of a woman, but she gets shot anyway; Ethan shoots the murderer in the leg to detain him. There's some kissing. Ethan and Prenna spend the night together, cuddling, and Ethan reaches under her shirt. They plan to have sex, but Prenna cancels after learning about a man who spread a plague by having sex with time natives. Some instances of strong language ("ass, "bastard," "hell," "s--t"). Overall, it's a provocative story that could lead to discussions about time travel, destiny, and global warming.

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What's the story?

Prenna is from a bleak future world where blood plagues are decimating the population; her two younger brothers are among the casualties. With her mom, she travels from the 2090s back to 2010, where she and her community of travelers live with strict rules ("We must uphold absolute allegiance to the community, to its survival and its safety, and accept the guidance of our leaders and counselors without question or discussion"). But when a homeless man tells her that she must stop "a single act, a murder, that will change the course of history," she and smart "time native" Ethan suddenly find themselves on an adventure that will have her breaking all the community's rules, including never to "develop a physically or emotionally intimate relationship with any person outside of the community."

Is it any good?

THE HERE AND NOW is a book of speculative fiction that certainly will get readers thinking. By setting Prenna's horrible world not too far in the future, author Ann Brashares brings attention to the global-warming crisis, making readers wonder if we're doing enough to prevent the devastating problems the protagonist experiences. Also, readers might be impressed by the technologically advanced world Prenna describes (although she says most of the cool technologies "weren't working so well by the time I was born"): She's used a small device that can record everything that happens to you and let people "retrace any part of our life you want" -- and help solve crimes.

The book moves quickly, with big ideas about time travel, technology, and more, but there's also plenty of romance and adventure as Ethan and Prenna fall in love while trying to save the world. But it's really the bigger questions that Brashares raises -- such as, what happens when "other people besides you have access to your life" through your recorded memories? -- that could lead to some fun conversations or at least some good soul searching.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about time travel. Do you think it will ever be possible?

  • Is the future written in stone, or are many paths possible?

  • What do you think about Prenna's belief that "nobody does the hard things" to reverse global warming? Do you agree?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction and fantasy

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