This Is Us for teens, this luminous and heartbreaking contemporary novel follows a girl caught between two brothers as the three of them navigate family, loss, and love over the course of two summers. For fans of Far From the Tree, Emergency Contact, and Nina LaCour.
Before she kissed one of the Cohen boys, seventeen-year-old Jessi Rumfield knew what it was like to have a family—even if, technically, that family didn’t belong to her. She’d spent her childhood in the house next door, challenging Rowan Cohen to tennis matches while his older brother, Luke, studied in the background and Mel watched over the three like the mother Jessi always wished she had.
But then everything changed. It’s been almost a year since Jessi last visited the Cohen house. Rowan is gone. Mel is in remission and Luke hates Jessi for the role she played in breaking his family apart. Now Jessi spends her days at a dead-end summer job avoiding her real mother, who suddenly wants to play a role in Jessi’s life after being absent for so long. But when Luke comes home from college, it’s hard to ignore the past. And when he asks Jessi to pretend to be his girlfriend for the final months of Mel’s life, Jessi finds herself drawn back into the world of the Cohens. Everything’s changed, but Jessi can’t help wanting to be a Cohen, even if it means playing pretend for one final summer.
Title: Some Other Now
Author: Sarah Everett
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Targeted Age Range: Young Adult
Representation: Half Black main character, Filipino secondary main characters
Trigger Warnings: Mentions of divorce, depictions and mentions of depression, illness (cancer), mentions of underage drinking, secondary main character death, mentions of racism, mentions of cheating, mentions of sex, parental death, mentions of drunk driving, mentions of police, grief, slut shaming
Some Other Now is a beautiful story about grief, healing and found family, and truthfully, I’m bummed that I haven’t heard more people talking about it. I picked up the book on a whim at the bookstore one day and I’m so glad that I did.
Jessi Rumfield always felt more at home with the seemingly perfect Cohen family than her own. She met her best friend Rowan while playing tennis as a child and immediately found her place within the family. Rowan was her confidant and the person that she knew she could always talk to. Mel, Rowan’s mother, was a shoulder for her to lean and cry on, and was more of a mother to her than her own. Luke, Rowan’s older brother, was her first crush and a constant presence in her life. But when Mel gets sick, Jessi’s entire world is turned upside down and a year later she finds herself without Rowan, without Mel, without Luke and completely unsure of everything in her life.
The pacing of the novel was absolutely spot on. The story flowed smoothly and seamlessly, making it incredibly difficult to put down. The story is told in two timelines; Then and Now. The dual timelines really allowed the readers to feel the full scope of emotions that Jessi was feeling, both in the past and in the present and how her choices affected everyone around her. Throughout the book you’re dying to know what exactly happened between Jessi, Rowan and Luke that lead to their falling out, and the dual timelines made the reveal even more interesting. While I figured out the basics of what happened pretty quickly, that didn’t stop me from holding my breath when the truth was revealed.
“Romance is great and all, but friendship is every bit as miraculous and special”
While romance is clearly a central part of the storyline (I mean there’s fake dating, and who doesn’t love fake dating??) the real focus of this story is the importance of platonic relationships. All Jessi wants is to feel like she is a part of something, and ultimately, isn’t that what we all want? To feel loved and known and confident in the fact that no matter what happens, there are always people that are going to have your back. With her mother’s depression and her father’s need to keep up a facade of a perfect family unit, for the first seven or so years of her life, Jessi never felt that. Then she met the Cohen’s and right away they accepted her and welcomed her as part of their family. When she loses that, she’s completely unsure of who she is and what to do. She feels lost without them, and I think that’s something a lot of us can relate to. Though I was absolutely invested in the romantic storyline, I was much more intrigued by the storylines of the platonic relationships.
In particular, the relationship between Jessi and Mel was one that I thought was really beautiful and showed the importance of young girls having women that they can look up to and confide in. So much of the advice Mel gives Jessi is advice that every young girl needs to hear when she’s starting to learn who she is and how she wants to navigate the world. I really could’ve read an entire book just about Mel and Jessi’s relationship.
“Maybe those words – the things I chose to believe about myself and the things I aspired to be – could be the space I carved for myself in this world, a place I could come back to over and over again, and it would always be there because it was inside me.”
Another thing that I thought this book dealt with extremely well was discussions of mental illness. Jessi’s mother suffers from severe depression that was brought on by postpartum. During the “Then” sections we see how badly her mother’s depression affected Jessi, and the real darkness that took over their household at the time. In the “Now”, Jessi’s mother, Kathrine, is in therapy and taking medication and much more present in Jessi’s life than she ever had been before. Jessi isn’t sure how to feel about her mother suddenly being someone that she can actually go to for comfort or just spend time with. This eventually leads to a big blow up, and later her mother shares with her that in her family, things like depression were not seen as “real” illnesses and that it was just something that you “got over”, which made it incredibly hard for her mother to seek the help that she needed. Some Other Now does a great job of making it clear that healing is a continual process. It is important to note that I have never experienced depression to the extent that Jessi’s mother has, so I can only speak to how I personally read the situation and what I know based on information that others have shared with me.
After finishing Some Other Now, the first words I said were “that was beautiful”, and it absolutely was. The focus on healing and learning how to continue after a tragedy was so well done and very cathartic to read. I highly recommend this book if you’re a fan of heartfelt and emotional reads.
Sarah Everett is the author of EVERYONE WE’VE BEEN, NO ONE HERE IS LONELY, and SOME OTHER NOW (coming Fall 2020). She remembers growing up in enchanted forests, on desert islands and inside a magical wardrobe. She would only ever erase her memory of past karaoke performances and certain fashion choices. Her interests include science, Friends, tennis, and reading. She currently lives in Canada where she attends graduate school and writes YA novels.Follow Sarah: Website | Twitter | Instagram