Summary: I’ve got seven days to come clean to my new dad. Seven days to tell the truth…
For sixteen-year-old Tiffany Sly, life hasn’t been safe or normal for a while. Losing her mom to cancer has her a little bit traumatized and now she has to leave her hometown of Chicago to live with the biological dad she’s never known.
Characters. We actually met a LOT of characters in this book but I think going through all of them or even mentioning would kind of ruin you getting to know them as Tiffany does so I’m not going to do that.
Tiffany Sly. She is our protagonist and our narrator. She just turned 16 and is traveling to California to live with a father she’s never met. In the first chapter, we learn that she is terrified of flying, and also terrified to meet Anthony Stone. She has anxiety and she’s always worried about things that could possibly kill her. Irrational fears and what not. She is very nervous about meeting her father, but she’s also a bit in doubt since not long before she departed, another man came to her home, thinking he might be her father and he wants her to take a DNA test. So she’s thinking about that, plus, the other man is going to serve her father a court order so she has to take a DNA test and she’s thinking about that time frame. Seven days to confirm who might be her father. She marches to the beat of her own drum, she doesn’t conform, at least not completely, she does try not to test the waters, but she can’t help but to speak out against certain things she finds ridiculous that her new family does. She’s easy to befriend Marcus, even though he did come off as weird in the beginning and everyone freaks out about him, but she was pretty easy about it. She’s from Chicago, so she tries really hard not to be a stereotype in this new place, that’s also majority white. I really liked Tiffany, there wasn’t anything about her I didn’t like. She’s super tall, so of course people assume she likes and/or plays a sport but she’s into music. I loved her “nerdiness” and just how it was just natural and a part of her and not something shocking because she’s a black girl into what she’s into.
Anthony Stone. He is a potential father for Tiffany, but he is the one she’s going to live with. We don’t really get to meet him until the second or third chapter, and he’s interesting but also seems very detached and I did not like him, mostly in the beginning. I softened up to him more towards the end, but it was a hard journey. I felt like Tiffany when it came to him. She was kind of awkward with him, but unsure if he could be her father, especially once she meets him and sees what he looks like. There are moments where it feels right, where you wonder “Wow, maybe he is her father” but then he does something outrageous and you’re like “NO! He can’t be her dad!” I mean this dude has some pretty ridiculous moments, but he’s also kind of tragic in ways. A lot of things that dealt with him made me cry, especially at the end. Oh man. I had so much whiplash with him but I think Dana L. Davis wrote an interesting man.
Marcus McKinney. Definitely my favorite character of the book, he’s definitely a secondary leading character but I loved every bit with him. When we first meet him, I was a little unsure to what he was doing, or what he looked like because of his description but it becomes clear later. It does take a while to learn what is up with him but I think that’s part of his charm as well. He doesn’t care anything about what other people think about him and he just lives his life because it’s his to live. There is something different about him and Tiffany doesn’t really pick up on it until later, but she never makes a big deal about anything. Marcus doesn’t either. He became a great friend for Tiffany and she for him. He wrote a book in the book and I actually want to read his book.
Realistic Dialogue. I definitely have to give Dana L. Davis praise, because the dialogue in this book was very realistic. Especially for the teenage characters. I always complain when I read certain young adult books because it seems like the authors don’t really understand how teenagers respond to things, or how they speak to each other. Sometimes it comes off really pretentious or childlike and just ugh, but Dana L. Davis does it so well. Tiffany sounded like a true 16-year-old teenage African-American girl. The conversations she would have with her grandmother on the phone, with her best friend, even the conversations she would have with London and her other sisters. It just really flowed well and it sounded genuine instead of generic and awkward. I mean outside of Tiffany being awkward in general.
Humorous. I laughed quite a lot reading this book. The dialogue is so funny, and the interactions between characters is always entertaining. The book is told in Tiffany’s point of view, so we get a lot of her inner thoughts and her reactions to things, her irrational fears, her though processes, or her telling us how other characters are looking at her, or reacting was very funny. Also, Marcus being so enigmatic as he was, was also pretty funny too and he did it without trying it was just part of his character. Also, Neveah is maybe where most of the humor comes from when it comes to dialogue. That little girl will say whatever it is she wants and doesn’t find the problem with it.
The Family Dynamic. Tiffany’s mother passed before the events of the book, she is still very hurt from it, but she has hope, since she is going to live with her father in California. She’s never met him so it’s a first anyway, but I think we see of the family is pretty interesting. I don’t necessarily agree with what the Stones do, or even believe in, I think it’s a little extreme, but that’s how it is for some families and I appreciate that the book really touched on that. Their family was dysfunctional and they tried to pretend like they weren’t. I always find that very interesting because there is so many options to explore. Also, when Tiffany gets added to the mix, it’s very weird and awkward at first, but as the book progresses, the women of the family, well some of them, really become a strong lifeline for her, or her for them. It was a great natural progression.
Very emotional. I cried. A lot actually. The book deals with death and grief, and loneliness and family, and abandonment and I can understand a lot of that. I’m definitely not going to get into anything, but I do think if you’ve lost a parent, or someone you were close to, this would really hit home for you. Also, Tiffany has anxiety, among other things and seeing her deal with that, or dealing with her father who doesn’t believe in that kind of stuff, it’s hard and challenging but the way it’s handled is really beautiful. I think the end, the last few chapters are what really got me, especially after the trip in Malibu. Oh man, I can imagine if you don’t cry but don’t be surprised if you do.
Thought provoking. Marcus McKinney is a fantastic character, probably my favorite in the story but he is so smart and his beliefs are truly amazing. I’ve never met anyone like him but I can imagine I’d befriend him as well. He’s a bit odd at first glance, sure, but the way he thinks about God and energy, I was like “he’s legit” and I actually feel the same way in some instances. I talked about it with my coworker the other day and we both were like “so deep”. I mean, I really thought about it while he would explain it to Tiffany. Plus, there was something special about him anyway, so he felt like a pure person.
Unfinished Plotlines. I do think there is a lot that happens in this book. We get a lot of information and while I do think the book handles a lot of it really well, I do wish it would have gone a bit deeper, particularly with Pumpkin. She apparently she’s on the spectrum and at first I thought it was just something the mom made up, or they thought because they didn’t know how to really parent her outbursts, but the mom does try but nothing else really comes of that. Not that it had to be a big part of the story, but since it was brought up and since it was something Tiffany was around, I thought we should have seen more of that. Also, with London, there is something that happens with her and it does kind of become a little big something, but it kind of just ends. It was kind of strange to be honest.
Overall, I really loved Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now because it felt like an authentic story. Tiffany was a realistic teenager, she didn’t feel like an adult’s view of a teenager which I appreciated. I loved her interactions with other characters, and how she just marched to the beat of her own drum, she didn’t care because it was who she was. She loved her music, she loved the idea of what a father would be like to her and I think that’s all beautiful and so realistic for a teenage girl whose never had a father. I thought while complicated, Anthony Stone was a great character and someone who I ended up really liking and thinking was tragic by the end. Marcus was my favorite and I just want to sit and speak with him and also read his book. It’s funny, it’s emotional, it made me go “TELL EM AGAIN GIRL” and I finished it in a day so I loved it. My only real negative was that I felt there were a few storylines that didn’t get wrapped up as easily and I thought about it afterwards. But regardless, fantastic story.
Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars.
What I’m reading Next:
Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles
Read the other parts before part four.
I. One and Only
II. Falling Fast
III. Hello Heartache
“I met my soul mate today.”
Those were really not the words he was expecting her to say. He didn’t know why but he couldn’t react. Not at first. He just stood there. Silent. Say something. But he couldn’t, he didn’t know what to say. What should he even say? He knew this day would come, he didn’t know when and he didn’t know what it would do to her and just by looking, he could tell it was killing her inside.
What should he do?
Hearing his name snapped him out of whatever he just disappeared in. He cleared his throat and took a step back trying to regain his balance. Theo moved forward but stopped herself, her eyes darting away from him. He could see on her face that she was confused. He could see on her face that she was in pain.
This is why. This is why he never put stock in the whole “soul mark” thing because of reasons like this. She’s hurting, and he knows he can’t do anything to help her, not really. This is why he admired his parents for making it through this society full of matching soul marks because they are still in love. He never knew if they met their soul mates or not, but regardless they’re together. They’re in love. He wanted that regardless of matching soul marks. He knew Theo didn’t care either, she always wanted to make her own way. So why was this so hard? Especially for her?
“Just…” He waved his hand asking her to stop. Just don’t. He wasn’t angry, not really. Steve didn’t really know what he felt. It was confusing. He turned his back on her and gripped the back of her navy-blue couch trying to stable himself. What does this mean for them? He wanted to move in together. He loves Theo. He doesn’t want to lose her to… “What is his name?”
“What?” Her voice was shaky, almost a whisper. He didn’t want to see the look on her face because who know what he’d see.
“What is his name?”
Silence. Steve turned to look at his girlfriend. She stood there, her head lowered, her arms crossed, like she was trying to close herself in. Theo had walls up before, he worked hard to get through them, but it was like she was trying to pull them back up.
“Theodora… what is his name?”
Michael. He wanted to know what he was like. She was gone for a long time, perhaps they got better acquainted. That burned him up inside, it felt like something red-hot was trying to claw its way out of his chest. Jealousy maybe? He never thought he would feel this way. Theo looked at him, her brown eyes wet. Was she crying? Oh god, he can’t handle a crying Theo. She is always so strong so tears were a rarity.
“Tell me about him.”
“There’s nothing to tell Steve. He doesn’t… I mean, we didn’t… it wasn’t like a full conversation. We just talked.”
She stepped towards him again and he would have moved away but he forced himself to stay. He could smell her perfume as she moved closer. The honey lavender scent wafted into his nose and it centered him. He always loved the way she smelt. The smoothness of her hands, touched his arms that tightly gripped the back of the couch behind him. He watched as her hands moved up his arms, rising to his shoulders…his heart beat so painfully in his chest but he couldn’t help himself. He wanted to kiss her. Her hands moved to his neck, they rested on his face and she stood on her toes. Her full lips touched his and he didn’t know if the sharp intake of breath was his or hers.
Steve released the couch and pulled her closer to him. Her body touching his…but something was wrong. Something was off. There was an alarm going off somewhere in his mind. When they pulled away, his breath was heavy, her eyes stared into his eyes and he knew something was wrong.
“Something’s wrong Steve.” She pulled away completely, her movements frantic as she began to pace back and forth. She touched her fingers to her lips, her brow furrowed as it did when she was in thought.
“It’s the soul mark.” His voice was quiet. It was the only explanation. But why would they feel different just because Theo met her soul mate. Nothing changed when he met Ebony. Why has it changed now?
“No. Why would it be different for the both of us and not just me? I don’t understand any of this. It’s so annoying and I hate it. I love you Steve. I know I do but I just feel… so confused that I don’t know what to do.” He watched as her pacing picked up speed. Her face was full of agony and she occasionally stopped to look at him her brown eyes wide.
“No one truly understands how soul marks work Theo.”
“Maybe not but I don’t… I hate this. I hate it. When I heard my words…” No. I don’t want to hear this. “…I, I wanted to fight it. I did fight it, but it wasn’t good enough. I’m so sorry Steve. I never want to hurt you.”
“You know I never wanted to meet my soul mate. I just… I want to be with you. I just can’t decide what’s going on inside of me. If you meet your soul mate you’ll know exactly…”
“I’ve already met her.”
Theo stopped moving, her body rigid. She turned to look at Steve even more confused then she already was. Steve looked away. Today has been ruined. He shouldn’t have said anything, he should have kept everything to himself. He shouldn’t have asked in the first place.
“What? You have? When?”
“About six months ago.”
Theo’s eyes grew large. Steve wasn’t sure what that expression was, but he knew her mind was going through all kinds of scenarios. She stood still. She was so silent. He felt like he should have moved forward, maybe he should reach for her, maybe he should reassure her that it meant nothing. Yeah, he thought about Ebony, but not like constantly. It just happens every now and then.
What? It was so quiet that he almost didn’t hear what she said. He asked her to repeat what she said, but she finally looked at him. Her brown eyes watery once more but soft.
“Is she pretty?”
“Tha- that doesn’t… that doesn’t matter Theo.”
“Is she pretty Steve?”
He sighed. This is so painful, and he didn’t want to make it worse. Why should it matter if his “soulmate” was pretty? It didn’t matter.
The woman of his dreams stood there in front of him. Her eyes a beautiful light brown, seeming brighter because of her tears. Her beautiful brown skin always glowed from the light she carried inside her body. Her large curly hair styled in one of her favorite “go-to” styles of a fro-hawk. Her dark jeans and blue tank top. Everything about her was what he wanted. She was perfect.
But… there were times when he thought of Ebony James. It happened randomly. Not often but randomly. He remembered how she looked when he stopped her dog from running too far.
Ebony had her hair pulled back into a ponytail, it was black and straight with wisps escaping and curling around her forehead. Her skin was dark, he imagined it was beautiful in the moonlight. She had almond eyes, dark as well and a beautiful smile with full lips. She was beautiful and sometimes her face appeared, and he always pushed it away.
Sometimes it lingered for too long though.
Ebony doesn’t look a thing like Theo. But he couldn’t deny his own confusion, but he could push it away a lot easier than Theo apparently could. He didn’t know Ebony. She seemed nice, but he didn’t know her.
Shit. He’s been quiet for too long.
“Yeah, she was pretty.”
There was a sharp intake of breath, but he didn’t see anything accusing or hurt in her eyes. There was understanding, and he hated that. She was perfect and he’s sitting here upset that she met her soulmate, like she planned it.
He sighed and moved towards her.
She wrapped her arms around him and they just stood there entwined. He could feel her heartbeat against his chest, and he really wished everything before this moment could be erased but he knew it was going to be different.
At the end of the day, it’s Theo’s choice.