When researching for my 50 2020 YA Releases by Black authors post, I came across so many amazing books and my TBR grew exponentially. Now That I’ve Found You is just one of those shining gems that allowed me to really just escape into its pages and get lost with Evie and Milo. Thank you so much to Elise at The Nerd Daily for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review (which is also cross-posted on The Nerd Daily).
Following in the footsteps of her überfamous grandma, eighteen-year-old Evie Jones is poised to be Hollywood’s next big star. That is until a close friend’s betrayal leads to her being blacklisted . . .
Fortunately, Evie knows just the thing to save her floundering career: a public appearance with America’s most beloved actress—her grandma Gigi, aka the Evelyn Conaway. The only problem? Gigi is a recluse who’s been out of the limelight for almost twenty years. Days before Evie plans to present her grandma with an honorary award in front of Hollywood’s elite, Gigi does the unthinkable: she disappears.
With time running out and her comeback on the line, Evie reluctantly enlists the help of the last person to see Gigi before she vanished: Milo Williams, a cute musician Evie isn’t sure she can trust. As Evie and Milo conduct a wild manhunt across New York City, romance and adventure abound while Evie makes some surprising discoveries about her grandma—and herself.
This is such a heart-warming, romantic book that will brighten up your shelves and your heart. Forest is such a ray of light in YA, crafting such adorable stories that just are the book equivalent of a warm hug.
The romance at the centre of the book is just amazing, with great chemistry and flirty, witty banter flying throughout. This is no insta-love, rather a gradual build-up of feelings and overflowing with such sweetness that you can’t help but ship them. It’s such a heart-warming, swoon-worthy romance. Of course it helps that Evie and Milo are brilliant characters that are so easy to connect to. Evie is on a journey of self-discovery after a betrayal and the process of her smashing down her protective walls that have only served to isolate her is an extremely cathartic and amazing thing to witness. Learning to trust and find your place is such an important message for young people to hear. Milo is so kind and constantly thinking of others, making him the perfect match for Evie. His friendship with Gigi was amazing and delving into her history was fascinating and saddening at the same time. The search for her leads to a lot of hijinks and a touch of mystery surrounding her past, helping to keep the plot moving along as they sped through the city. Also, the fact that the romance is secondary to Evie’s journey of self-discovery is just awesome to see and will be impactful for many young people reading.
Forest really delves into the film industry, both the pitfalls and highlights of fame and what that brings with it. She sets the scene with plenty of film references, brining that old-school Hollywood nostalgia through classic romance films, but she also reminds us of how perilous those times were for any marginalised groups. Here, the two big film stars are the centre are both Black and this is highlighted as the unfortunately revolutionary move that it is. The industry is still predominantly populated by the same people as it was years before, though this is changing and it was really special to see that the cast of characters was entirely made up of people of colour.
The competitive nature of the industry is also explored, with a fair amount of backstabbing and betrayal. Forest explores how social media and public perceptions are the greatest currency in the industry and Evie focuses a lot on how to best present herself, rather than being her true self. There’s multi-media used, which added to the cinematic feel and reminded you how there are constantly eyes on celebrities. It’s blended in seamlessly, adding to that mix of past and present which defines this book. The scandalous gossip doesn’t stop there, as you quickly dive into Gigi’s history and her animosity towards her ex James Jenkins. That intrigue kept me hooked, though the fabulous writing did most of that by itself. The story flows so well and you just get swept up on this search through New York and the past.
This also has one of the most perfect endings, with a brilliant culmination of all the plot threads and a certain film motif that runs throughout. It left me with a smile on my face and a glow in my heart.
Now That I’ve Found You is a joyous, spectacular celebration of love and film, reminding us all of the romantic adventures we can discover, but also that the most important journey we can make is to find ourselves.