Tag Archives: Teen Issues

Review: Are We There Yet?

Are We There Yet

Are We There Yet?
By Kathleen West
Berkley, 9780593098431, March 16, 2021, 352pp.

The Short of It:

Suburban moms and junior high drama. I shudder just remembering those days.

The Rest of It:

The transition from grade school to middle school is a big one. Some kids handle it better than others. Some parents, too. Alice feels pretty accomplished. She’s about to be a partner in the design firm she runs with her boss and her kids are both well-adjusted and happy. Her husband Patrick is very successful, although hardly ever home due to work and the mom group she hangs with all have similar interests. It’s a good life.

One day, one of those suburban moms hints that there might be something going on with Alice’s son, Teddy. Having absolutely no clue what she’s talking about, Alice finds herself defensive and guarded. So when the truth comes out about Teddy and what’s going on at school, Alice’s perfect little world quickly unravels.

West does an admirable job of depicting junior high life and what goes on with teens. All of the insecurity, the hormones raging, the anger that suddenly cannot be contained no matter what, and then the parents who poorly navigate those waters. This story also focuses on the danger of social media and how quickly a bad choice can turn into real harm if allowed to run its course.

Although I didn’t love any of these characters, I feel that the author did a stellar job of presenting the conflict and that these characters behaved very realistically to the challenges being presented to them. I remember my own challenges with my two and those teen years were/are rough. Plus, West touches on the busy-ness of working parents and how oblivious they can be to issues that are literally staring them right in the face.

Overall, I found this story to be pretty realistic in the telling and yes, I can see how even the best of parents can’t control the teen mind or body. They are like wild animals sometimes and definitely have opinions of their own. What would you do if you thought you did everything right and your kid still acted out in a horrible way? That is the question Alice faces over and over again.

I think any parent will be able to relate to this story and even if you don’t have kids of your own, you probably remember what it was like to hit the age of thirteen. I know I do.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park
By Rainbow Rowell
(St. Martin’s Griffin, Hardcover, 9781250012579, February 2013, 336pp.)

The Short of It:

You know when you were in school and drew hearts all over everything to express your love for a particular thing or person? Well, if I could actually bring myself to write in a book, there would be hearts all over this one.

The Rest of It:

Eleanor, an awkward, “big girl” with crazy red hair, lives at home with her numerous siblings, her mother and her abusive stepfather. She’s poor. Poor enough to learn how to make do with what she has, and often, what she has is very little. Her crazy outfits make her the butt of everyone’s jokes and the morning bus ride to school is made worse by the fact that no one wants to sit next to her.

However, none of this goes unnoticed by Park. Park observes Eleanor from afar, before offering up the seat next to him. Half-Korean and in a circle of his own, Park is not popular, but not unpopular either. He’s able to blend, mostly because he grew up with these kids. There is a degree of respect for him, so once Eleanor accepts the next to him, the atmosphere changes ever so slightly. Hesitant to talk at first, the two bond over comic books. When Park notices that she’s reading his comic books as they lay open in his lap, he begins to bring them just for her. What happens next is nothing short of magic. These two unlikely characters forge a friendship, which eventually becomes love. Through music and comic books, they come together and once Park gets close enough to know Eleanor’s true story, he does everything in his power to save her.

Sometimes, I think the success of a book comes down to how well an author captures a feeling. Reading this book was like living my high school years all over again and I mean that in a good way. Even with all of the teen angst, the high school years are the ones that stick with you. Am I right? Good, bad, ugly. It’s the stuff of memories and that is why I enjoyed this book so much. Rowell’s ability to strip the characters down to their most vulnerable state is what makes this book so readable and probably why the characters felt so real to me.

I loved Eleanor’s awkwardness but I think I loved Park’s pragmatic approach to life even more. And his parents? So awesome. Loving, supportive parents who aren’t perfect. Sure, there was a heavy dose of sap when it came to the romance itself, but that’s how it is when you are young. You can’t wait to see each other and you do nothing but obsess about it until you do. Rowell captures it all beautifully.

One bonus to reading this book is that it’s set in the 80’s and the musical references are like whipped cream added to a sundae. Delightful! I grew up in the 80’s so that entire decade is near and dear to my heart but this book has a little something for everyone. I highly recommend it.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.