Some Other Now

HMH. Feb. 2021. 368p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780358251866.
Gr 8 Up–Since the age of seven, Jessi has considered the Cohen family her own. She and Rowan play tennis and talk about everything; they are still best friends now at the age of 17. Luke has also always been there, another honorary and loyal brother. Even though the boys’ mom, Mel, has cancer, she is accessible and accepting, the kind of mother Jessi needs because her own is bedridden by depression and not an active part of Jessi’s life. Something terrible happens that rips the Cohens and Jessi apart, creating a rift between Jessi and Mel. Everett uses alternating time lines: “Then” is when Jessi, channeling Mel’s joie de vivre, is brave and kisses Luke for the time, setting off a romance that enchants but ends frustratingly. “Now” is when Jessi is enticed into Luke’s plan to pretend that they are back together to make Mel happy in her dying days. Everett is a master at dropping clues in these alternating time lines that cause readers to predict and question, compelling the romance and the complexities of Jessi’s relatable life along. With foils like lovely friend Willow and cranky octogenarian Ernie, Everett enmeshes Jessi and Luke in the myopia of teenage self-blame, survivor’s guilt, and a love triangle. Race and mental health play minor roles; Jessi’s mother is white and father is Black, and Mel’s parents are from the Philippines.
VERDICT Though it takes 117 pages for Everett to drop the bomb of the worst thing, the story picks up unbridled steam of page-turning romance and existential angst as Jessi eventually learns there is no other now.

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