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.
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