When I saw that Ann Brashares had a new book coming out, I jumped right on it. The Here and Now is a science fiction thriller where teenagers try to save the world. Maybe that sounds a little improbable, but it's fiction and it's fun. And it turns out it's even more than that. I loved this book. Prenna is a young girl who, along with a community of others, travels from the 2090s to 2010 to try to put right all the harm that has come to the environment and caused so much death and suffering. Prenna and her community must follow strict rules to avoid causing large rifts in the future and she is content to follow these rules until she meets Ethan. Ethan is a friend from school who seems to know that there is something different about her. Prenna is haunted by memories of her old life and the loved ones she has lost. She is also frightened by the feelings she is beginning to have for Ethan and the consequences of breaking the rules.
This book appealed to me on several levels. First, I like the idea of time travel and what one could do with such an ability. I also like exploring what effects changing one little thing could have on the rest of time. Secondly, I have a strong belief that one person really can make a difference in the world and so any story that follows that theme has my attention. Mostly, however, I was strongly pulled in by the idea that the environment really could be destroyed by those of us currently living upon the earth. The characters discuss that scientists know now what we are doing to damage the planet and they know how to reverse it, but the problem is convincing the rest of the population that it matters. The book puts it this way:
"People here have strange ideas about what to do to help. There is Earth Day and all kinds of green products that make people feel good- as though organic cotton sheets and hemp socks are going to do the trick. But nobody does the hard things. Not if it costs them anything. Nobody calls for any real sacrifices."
One character in the book claims that his version of the future was ruined because someone felt the environment was more important than jobs and profits, but what can possibly happen to those jobs and those profits if the environment in which we live collapses? I love when fiction takes the opportunity to make readers think about real life and his or her place in it. That is, I believe, the true purpose of literature.