Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Book Review: Are We There Yet? by Kathleen West

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

“It’s just, Teddy’s reputation.” Alice sounded hopeless. “He did this other thing now. Made a stupid comment on social media and—”

“Who cares what other people think of Teddy?”

But of course, Alice had always cared about public opinion. Evelyn knew this. Appearances, after all, had become her daughter’s life’s work as an architect and interior designer. Alice’s desire to impress had seemed inborn. She’d collected only accolades all through middle and high school, cultivating her teachers’ and peers’ impressions of her. Alice herself had affixed the “Notre Dame Mom” sticker on the back window of Everlyn’s old Subaru the same day the acceptance came in. The Notre Dame architecture dream had been pure irony, Evelyn marveled, as Alice didn’t even know her mother had started at the very same school, transferring away only when her pregnancy mandated it.

Junior high is a complicated time for young teens’ relationships, and their mothers’ relationships too. The three moms featured in this book were used to doing everything together, but the changes their kids were going through seemed to be the catalyst for the mom connections to change as well.

Official synopsis:
Book Review: Are We There Yet? by Kathleen West
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.

Oh, what a day to be Alice! She starts out thinking her biggest concern is that she’ll have to cut her conference with her second grade daughter’s teacher short in order to rush to a career changing work appointment. In the first few minutes of the brief conference, her phone rings repeatedly from her son’s school. That’s just the beginning of everything falling apart, and it may take months or longer to put it all back together.

The characters in this book all felt sort of stereotypical, but that didn’t make them any less real. Unfortunately for the moms, most of their reputations and relationships were quite dependent on their kids. The kids were 12 or 13, and were starting to have more of their own choices to make. Their choices started changing everyone’s idea of who they and their moms were.

Overall, I’d give this book 3 out of 5 stars. The author could definitely portray convincingly what being a mom of a junior high aged kid can be like. This book would be an enjoyable read for those who like fiction, especially involving families.

{click HERE to purchase}

Becki Bayley is a mom who hopes to never have jarring revelations of what her kids are really like. So far, so good. See more of her and her kids on her instagram as PoshBecki.


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