Set in the 1960s, Barbara Bottner's I Am Here Now is a beautiful novel in verse about one artist’s coming of age. It’s a heartbreaking, powerful and inspiring depiction of what it's like to shatter your life—and piece it all back together.
You can’t trust Life to give you decent parents, or beautiful eyes, a fine French accent or an outstanding flair for fashion. No, Life does what it wants. It’s sneaky as a thief.
Maisie's first day of High school should be exciting, but all she wants is to escape.
Her world is lonely and chaotic, with an abusive mother and a father who’s rarely there to help.
So when Maisie, who finds refuge in her art, meets the spirited Rachel and her mother, a painter, she catches a glimpse of a very different world—one full of life, creativity, and love—and latches on.
But as she discovers her strengths through Rachel’s family, Maisie, increasingly desperate, finds herself risking new friendships, and the very future she's searching for.
An Imprint Book
In 1960, budding artist Maisie reflects on her tumultuous freshman year in the Bronx's Parkchester community. Maisie's home is no refuge from her noisy neighborhood when her Hungarian-American mother isn't battling it out with her father, she is abusive, belittling Maisie and sometimes turning violent. Maisie uses drawing to escape but still feels like "one quarter of a human being,/ three-quarters longing,/ drowning in emptiness" until she meets Rachel, a girl whose home life is everything Maisie wishes hers was. In Rachel's bohemian household, Maisie finds it easy to open up to Rachel's mother, an oil painter, who quickly becomes her mentor. But as Maisie comes into herself, her attraction to Rachel's gorgeous boyfriend could ruin her newfound happiness. Best known for her picture books, Bottner (What a Cold Needs) draws on all five senses to evoke Maisie's chaotic world, using expressive verse to portray "what it's like for me," from the dark atmosphere of her home to the bright environments of Rachel's house and her mother's art studio. Though outside issues make the story line seem scattered at times, the book's subject matter and themes remain timeless. Ages 14 up.