We are Kathleen West fans here at Literary Quicksand, as she used to contribute! See her reviews and other posts here. So, I was so super excited to read her second book, Are We There Yet? and review it here for her! Spoiler alert (but not really): I loved it…it was a book I just gobbled up.
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Among fake Instagram pages, long-buried family secrets, and the horrors of middle school, one suburban mom searches to find herself.
Alice Sullivan feels like she’s finally found her groove in middle age, but it only takes one moment for her perfectly curated life to unravel. On the same day she learns her daughter is struggling in second grade, a call from her son’s school accusing him of bullying throws Alice into a tailspin.
When it comes to light that the incident is part of a new behavior pattern for her son, one complete with fake social media profiles with a lot of questionable content, Alice’s social standing is quickly eroded to one of “those moms” who can’t control her kids. Soon she’s facing the very judgement she was all too happy to dole out when she thought no one was looking (or when she thought her house wasn’t made of glass).
Then her mother unloads a family secret she’s kept for more than thirty years, and Alice’s entire perception of herself is shattered.
As her son’s new reputation polarizes her friendships and her family buzzes with the ramification of her mother’s choices, Alice realizes that she’s been too focused on measuring her success and happiness by everyone else’s standards. Now, with all her shortcomings laid bare, she’ll have to figure out to whom to turn for help and decide who she really wants to be.
Are We There Yet? Review
You’ve done it again, Kathleen! This book was…well, it was kind of nuts. In a good way 😂.
There’s something awesome about the way Kathleen introduces characters. We meet them in moments that are so everyday, yet give us some big clue about their personalities and inner workings. As for Alice, the main character, the book starts right off with her having a bad day. And, well, she pretty much has bad days throughout the whole book.
Alice’s kids (and her whole life in general) have just been sailing along, doing fine. Until they’re not. Then, something piles on that makes the situation even worse. And then it happens again, and just keeps happening until the situation feels dire.
Alice isn’t the only mom in this story to have some tough days, as a few others are wrapped up in the same issues with their kids (who are friends with Alice’s).
I love a book with big things to say about relationships, and this one definitely accomplishes that. There are volatile relationships between middle school kids, between kids and their parents, between married parents, and between the adults and their own parents. So many layers of relationships here!
I won’t go into the ending, because I always try to write spoiler-free reviews. I loved the ending of this one, and I loved the lessons learned by all of the characters.
I gave Are We There Yet? my full 5 stars!