Title: Are We There Yet?
Author: David Levithan
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Pub Date: December 24, 2008
Genre(s): YA, Contemporary
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Synopsis from Goodreads:
Sixteen-year-old Elijah is completely mellow and his 23-year-old brother Danny is completely not, so it’s no wonder they can barely tolerate one another. So what better way to repair their broken relationship than to trick them into taking a trip to Italy together? Soon, though, their parents’ perfect solution has become Danny and Elijah’s nightmare as they’re forced to spend countless hours together. But then Elijah meets Julia, and soon the brothers aren’t together nearly as much. And when Julia suddenly decides that maybe it’s Danny she’s really interested in, Danny has a decision to make: does he honor his relationship with the brother he thinks hates him, or does he follow his heart, which sorely needs some repairing of its own?
“How did my world get so small?”
Elijah and Danny are connected by blood and nothing more. As a manipulative ploy to get them to work out their issues, Danny and Elijah’s mother tricks them into going on a holiday together. In Italy. For nine days. You can imagine how thrilled both of them were about their mother’s deception. Danny is furious and Elijah is complacent. Awkward small-talk ensues.
I really love the premise of this book. My brother and I are also 7 years apart, and it’s crazy how we went from loving each other as kids to resenting each other as teens, to understanding each other as adults. It took a long time and a lot of long talks to get to where we are today but now we are closer than ever. Are We There Yet? manages to explore that strange sibling dynamic over a period of nine days. That’s pretty cool.
I really appreciated how the focus remained on the brothers all throughout the story. The romance with Julia was more of a quick fling to further the plot and did not take the attention away from the sibling drama. If anything, it actually helped develop both the conflict and resolution between Elijah and Danny.
Another thing I really enjoyed was seeing all of the different cities through both Elijah and Danny’s eyes. I’ve been to all of the same places they visited, so it was really interesting to see how they felt about each city and what they had to offer. I’ve come to the conclusion that, as a traveler, sometimes I’m Danny and sometimes I’m Elijah. It really depends on how much sleep I’ve gotten, haha.
All in all, the story was just okay. The ending was a little abrupt but it did end in a promising way. Perhaps this book was meant to be short for a reason but I believe it had potential to be so much more.
In any case, this book served its purpose for BookTube-A-Thon. I might have DNF’d it if not for that reason. For me, it was just a tedious box to check off on a list. It also left me feeling profoundly lonely… but that’s probably just a Layla-issue and not a book-issue.
David Levithan’s books are usually hits or misses for me, and although I appreciated the focus on siblings in this one, it was still a miss. Take from that what you will.