Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now is perched on my bookshelf, the passionate red cover sitting on top of The Book of Dust and Octavia’s Brood like a victor at the top of Mount Everest. Written by debut author Dana L Davis, Tiffany Sly is only the second Contemporary YA novel I’ve ever read, and – if I’m being honest – the first YA book I’ve read where the protagonist is a black female teen. From beginning to end, I couldn’t put Tiffany down — or out of my mind, for that matter. And…I’m still struggling to sort out my thoughts about this book.
Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now is about a 16-year-old girl, Tiffany, who must go to live with the father she has never known after her mother succumbs to cancer. Before she leaves for her new family, a surprise visit from a man brings an unexpected twist: he believes that he is her father and gives her seven days to process the bomb he dropped.
What I loved ♥ :
First of all, Tiffany Sly is one of the best main characters I’ve read this year. She’s bold, outspoken, doesn’t stand for bullying, and has a good sense of who she is. This is shown by the way she doesn’t allow the kids at her new school to intimidate her and by her defense of Marcus, her strange neighbor who receives a lot of flack for how he looks. Tiffany’s willful strength is not limited to the public — she also speaks her mind when it comes to her father and his family, especially when she witnesses many things she does not believe to be right. She’s her own best advocate….which made me root for her even more while also harboring a little anger for the adults not doing so.
The love she has for her now deceased mother is in every thought and action. The plot features flashbacks prior to her mother’s death, but this isn’t overdone, doesn’t overshadow the main story, and adds a layer of complexity to Tiffany’s character. It reveals so much of her grief, confusion, and feelings of uncertainly, especially when it comes to how her father might feel about her (and whether they share anything in common). There are times when the pacing starts to lag or when I’m waiting to get a smack in the face, though it doesn’t happen. This didn’t frustrate me, however; it made me want to move forward and continue reading.
Tiffany Sly touches on everything from race, stereotypes, and misconceptions to mental health and platonic relationships. The book does so without shoving it down throats or preaching, weaving instead a story of a girl trying to figure out who she is…..and who her father is. Unlike many YA novels, this one felt like it focused on self, friend, and familial love rather than romantic. It really shows that teenage girls aren’t love-ridden boy obsessed creatures who have only one thing on their minds.
There’s a complexity among the characters and plot here that I feel should be appreciated. London, whom I thought for sure I would HATE, turned out to be a character I liked. Marcus was strange….but in a good way. Like, guru good way and it’s clear from the start that he might be the soothing friend that Tiffany needs in a world that feels so threatening to her. I feel like he becomes on of her rocks. Her struggle with anxiety especially resonated with me. All of her fears, the kinds of thoughts she was having and their effects on her perception….I felt so connected to her in these moments of vulnerability. Like me, she has anxiety. Like me, she struggles with it. I felt instant compassion with her and a connection to her. And the conflict she had in dealing with it….both internally and externally (I’m looking at YOU, Anthony Stone) was so real ….that it was in those moments when I felt most moved.
Frankly, I didn’t like her father — Anthony Stone. Stone was far too strict, religious, and controlling for my taste and when I arrived at the end, I just couldn’t like him. Even after attempts of redemption, I couldn’t do it. I get he was nervous about meeting Tiffany and there was a TON of heartbreak, but what rubbed me wrong were all the ways he tried to change Tiffany….by telling her she should abandon music to do something more useful and having to play a sport in high school. I felt bad for her siblings and her stepmother, who were at the mercy of Stone, really. There were things he did that were, in my opinion, borderline abusive and I kind of wanted to kick his ass. I did like how different everyone was: how the stepmother pleasantly surprised me with her acceptance, how devoted London was to her faith, how open the twins (Heaven & Neveah) were with Tiffany, and the struggle of bringing up a child with autism. Every voice was distinct and I LOVED how I felt like I knew them like the back of my hand.
Also, the geography teacher was hella creepy. Way too touchy feely and stuffed full of red flags.
At the end of the book, I found myself hoping Stone wasn’t her father. Then, I began to dread that he actually might be. Suddenly, it’s as if my world hung in the balance and hinged on whatever answers Tiffany might receive. “Watch,” I told one of my friends. “She’ll hate him so much that she’ll wish it was the other guy…..and then, Davis will deliver the shattering blow.” I won’t reveal what happened…..Believe me, it’s taking EVERY OUNCE OF STRENGTH I HAVE not to say anything. Just know that I was torn to pieces and stitched together all at once. I was pretty much a slave to my emotions, people.
Tiffany Sly is funny, smart, the kind of girl we all know — and that’s why I fell in love with her character. There’s so much of her that I related to. She made me want to laugh and cry with equal measure, with her beautiful resilience, outspoken passion, and unstoppable spirit. Her story is about FAMILY, IDENTITY, GRIEF/LOSS, TRAUMA, ANXIETY, LOVE, and so much more.
By the time I turned the final page, my eyes were burning and I knew, then and there, that Tiffany had a permanent home in my heart.