Number of Pages: 215
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Release Date: 2005
“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 then Julia meets Danny and soon all three of them are in a mixed-up, turned-around, never-what-you-expect world of brothers, Italy, and love.
Are We There Yet? isn’t about a place on a map, it’s about a place in the heart. David Levithan has written a magical story of a journey definitely worth taking.”
I decided to read this book purely because it is written by David Levithan. I knew nothing of the plot, setting, or the theme of the story in general. I was so excited when I realized that the story takes place in the summer, and even more delighted when I discovered that the setting of the book is Italy! I’ve never read a book set in Italy before- the closest parallel I’ve read being the French setting of Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss- and I was really interested to see which famous landmarks Levithan would focus on. I can’t speak for the accuracy of Levithan’s descriptions because I have never been to Italy, but simply from a reader’s perspective he did an excellent job. I could picture the Italian streets, canals, shops, and ruins clearly in my mind, and it added a dramatic backdrop to complement the story.
The story itself is fun and light, but in traditional Levithan fashion it nevertheless has a meaningful underlying message. The two brothers, Elijah and Danny, are polar opposites of each other in a way that is obvious and exaggerated; Elijah is carefree, light-hearted, and kind to everyone he meets, whereas Danny is uptight, reserved, and one-hundred percent focused on his job. In some novels, overwhelmingly emphasized stereotypes can negatively impact the story. However, I feel as though the use of them here actually benefits the overall purpose of the story. In many ways, it helps give readers hope that if these two completely different brothers can compromise, maybe it could happen in real life as well.
Although I really enjoyed this novel, there were a few aspects that I thought could be improved. For example, I didn’t really see why it was necessary to include the romantic relationship with Julia. I didn’t detract from the story, but I don’t think it necessarily added anything hugely positive either. It seemed very random and forced, almost as if it were an afterthought that was inserted later on. Additionally, I felt like this novel was too short. When I finished reading the last page I couldn’t believe it was over- it felt like there definitely should have been more to it. A greater amount of detail in the middle of the book would also have improved the arc of the story and would have given it a lot more depth.
Despite its flaws, I had a great time reading Are We There Yet? I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite book by David Levithan, but it was still an adorable and enjoyable read. It’s a great summer book perfect for the beach- it’s quick, it’s light, and it will leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) 4 out of 5 smileys.
Would I recommend it to a friend?: Absolutely! Especially if they like David Levithan or contemporary YA fiction in general.
Have you ever read this book? What did you think of it? What books by David Levithan would you recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!