As part of our ongoing collaboration with the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, our writers have accepted the challenge of reading and reviewing pre-publication review copies of highly anticipated young adult literature. The reviews are posted here for our readers, but also will be sent to the Book House where they will hopefully be used to inform customers about the books they may want to purchase.We will try to publish one review a week for the spring.
The reviews contain spoilers, so be forewarned!
Not Now, Not Ever
by Lily Anderson
Published November 2017
320 pages, Wednesday Books
In the book, Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson, teenager Elliot Gabaroche is addressing what she wants to do during summer vacation. The book is set in present day Sacramento, California. Elliot is a humorous girl who often makes quips such as, “There was no empirical evidence that the Lieutenant wasn’t a robot,” (1). Elliot does not want to stay at home because she would have to watch her stepmother’s play. She does not want to go to a mock trial camp at UCLA. She also does not want to go to an Air Force program in Colorado Springs, where her mother works. Elliot thinks the program is somewhat interesting, but much of her family have been in the Air Force boot camp, so she thinks the program would be as physically demanding as the boot camp.
Instead, Elliot goes to a rigorous academic summer camp with a goal of achieving a full scholarship to Rayevich College. The quote, “I wanted to go to Rayevich College, the only school in the country with a science fiction literature program.” (12) shows that Elliot chooses this college because it has a science fiction literature program, which interests her. Elliot is mixed race, so there are a few examples of race being discussed in the novel, such as the quote “’This is some racist bullshit,’ I said. ‘I am not going to spend all summer pretending to be your sister. I don’t even like being your cousin. I’m not upgrading our genes because of one color-struck counselor,’” (40).
The author’s aim or intent is to help teenagers feel more comfortable in their own skin.
Elliot also struggles with traditional teenager issues such as a first love interest and competing with other kids to get into her favorite college. The quote, “’Ever is a nickname. My real name is Elliot,’ I murmured. He smiled. ‘I really like you, Elliot.’” (176) introduces Elliot’s love interest, named Brandon. Elliot is very interested in Brandon until they finally start talking and he starts to like her too. This provides the novel with a great sense of layering to the story, where the main plot is stepped away from briefly to explore a different, smaller topic. The quote, “’I’ve been going to college summer sessions since I was nine. Princeton, Berkeley, Yale. I’ve tried them all on, stuck on teams with people like you.’” (87) shows the problem put forth by the antagonist, named Perla. Perla is a very competitive student who brags about her accomplishments to Elliot regularly, this adds another obstacle that Elliot must overcome in the novel. Elliot’s overall goal is to make her family proud by showing them that she can be a successful author instead of joining the airforce, like her family usually does.
Lily Anderson makes interesting stylistic choices in her novel. One stylistic decision was for the novel to be written in first person. This allows the reader to further understand and connect with the main character and narrator, Elliot Gabarache. A second interesting stylistic choice was for the first few words of every chapter to have a different, more childish font. This shows the childish nature of Elliot, and allows the reader to understand more that she is only a kid. A final example of an interesting stylistic choice is the abundance of multiple languages in the book. Obviously English is used in the book, but phrases in Italian such as, “Mangia, mangia!”, phrases in Latin such as, “Aut Vincere Aut Mori”, and phrases in French such as, “Un. Deux. Trois.” display a variety of different languages. This appeals to the author’s Ethos, or reputation, because it shows that the author is very intelligent because she is able to include several languages in her novel. It also shows that the book is very modern, and capable of including several different types of people, showing that everyone is connected. The author uses techniques such as a first-person narrator, manipulating different fonts, and applying several different languages as stylistic choices. These stylistic choices really engage the reader and allows for a better understanding of the messages that the author is attempting to put forth.
I think the book is very interesting and funny. Elliot provides an interesting comedic spin on larger issues such as racism. I can personally connect to Eliot because I am a teenager, and this helped me understand her better. Racism and individuality are two themes that show up in the novel. Individuality is shown in the novel because we learn about what makes Elliot stand out, including talents and quirks. Competition also appears as a prominent theme in the novel, Perla competes with Elliot throughout the novel until Elliot realizes that competition is nothing but an unwanted burden, which weighs her down from her full potential. I think the author’s aim or intent is to help teenagers (especially minorities) feel more comfortable in their own skin by showing that every character in the novel has quirks, they are what defines you. The subject of the book is that people should follow their goals, like how Elliot followed her goal to get into Rayevich College. The book is written very well in my opinion, there are many intriguing themes and ideas that pull the reader in. The story is very well written, with highly developed characters. The author’s stylistic choices deepen the reader’s understanding of the messages put forth. For example, racism is better understood through the author’s stylistic choices because a first-person narrative allows the reader to connect with Elliot on an individual level, and understand that her mind works in the same way that every other teenage girl’s mind works. Also, using different fonts and languages in the one novel show a connection, which could be interpreted as many different races and cultures in one world. Overall, the book is a success because the author delivers hard hitting messages like racism, and softens them with just enough humor to engage the reader in a very interesting way. I would definitely recommend this book.