I have somewhat of a love / hate relationship with Sara Bennett Wealer’s Now & When, which is incredibly ironic considering the fact that the book is about a hate to love romance. I took one look at the premise for this novel and just knew that I had to read it. The truth is that I can be a bit of a sucker for books like this. For me, Now & When hit some great markers that would make me absolutely fall in love with it. The unfortunate piece is that this book also hit some markers for things that I would hate.
Skylar pretty much has everything figured out, right down to the community college she is planning to attend in order to stay near her long-time boyfriend when they graduate. With prom around the corner also comes the will they, won’t they question of their first time. But everything in Skylar’s perfect life is thrown into chaos when a strange app on her phone reveals that, ten years from now, she will be happily married to the one boy in school she just can’t stand, her academic rival Truman Alexander.
Everything bad about this book…
…is all Skylar’s fault.
The main plot? I love it. I’m so here for love / hate stories with futuristic themes. I love the idea of a character freaking out because she finds out that somewhere later on in her life she somehow falls for someone she hates. I’m definitely here for her trying to change it and bungling that all up entirely.
Truman? He’s an amazing character. He’s realistically driven, incredibly smart, and just the right amount of stuck up that it’s perfectly understandable why he and Skylar have such a hard time getting along. And he’s actually very genuinely nice, which is something I was not expecting. That alone made me fall in love with his character incredibly quickly, a breath of fresh air among the cynical bad boy types we typically get in similar scenarios.
The other characters? Amazing. Every one. They felt so much like real people. And the fact that Wealer has a character who is dealing with some very serious mental health issues was amazing to me. The subject was handled incredibly well, in my opinion, and felt very real. The character never felt like a caricature of depression or a plot device, either. And for that I truly do find this book impressive.
Skylar is basically just an awful person. She was snooty and stuck up in the worst possible way. Every time she complained about Truman, a genuinely nice and likable character, I just got annoyed with her. And sure, I get that they were supposed to have a rivalry, but I never truly felt like her reasons for hating him were reasonable. She just kind of felt like an ass who couldn’t get over minor slights. She’s a teenager, so fine, I can cut her some slack here.
But even then, Skylar is regularly awful to everyone around her. The funny thing is that everyone ends up calling her on her shit and she still continues to screw up all over the place. The most egregious of which involves some good old cheating for absolutely no reason whatsoever. I’m sorry, but the cheating plot was so unnecessary. It created a ridiculous bit of drama that the book did not need and ultimately hurt my ability to like Skylar as a character at all.
Nevermind that the cheating also expedited Skylar realizing she might have feelings for Truman in an unrealistic way that utterly messed with the pacing of the story. I didn’t feel like this was the slow burn romance it was supposed to be entirely because Skylar had this weird moment of lust that she couldn’t reign in. And for what reason? Ugh, I honestly don’t know. Then comes a whole slew of more moments for Skylar to be an awful human being because she has to figure out what to do about the cheating.
I feel like a lot of this could’ve been solved by not giving her an unnecessary boyfriend in the first place. Especially since his involvement in the story was basically nill. The boyfriend, ultimately, actually was used as a plot device. And a horrible one, at that. He all but disappears after they break up, which I guess makes sense in the grand scheme of things but it also just led to Skylar seeming like an awful human being…agian.
Here’s the thing.
Despite having one of the worst leading main characters that I’ve ever read, I did thoroughly enjoy reading this book. It’s for that fact alone that I’ve rated it as high as I have. Chauk it up to Truman being wonderful, my love of Skylar’s friend, Harper, or just the general plot and writing from the book but I had a good time reading this. It was a book that was hard to put down.
Do I still hate Skylar? You bet.
But yeah, the book isn’t bad. It was a fun read in the end.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.