Kathleen West, author of MINOR DRAMAS AND OTHER CATASTROPHES is back with a rollick through teenage angst and twenty-first century parenting in ARE WE THERE YET?
Alice Sullivan has it all – two perfect children, a handsome and successful husband, and a booming interior design business – until suddenly, she doesn’t. In a conflagration of events, Alice learns that her second grade daughter, Adrian, is reading below grade level, her seventh grade son, Teddy, has been suspended for bullying another student, and her job is on the line as she ricochets between parent/teacher conferences and meetings with the principal. Alice’s husband, Patrick, is away on business all week long and only home on the weekends, but her mother Evelyn, a child psychologist, is on hand with advice and unfortunately, a long-held secret that threatens to further unravel Alice’s carefully curated life.
The crisis with Teddy upends her relationships with Nadia and Meredith, her best friends since their children began kindergarten together. Alice had always considered Nadia the bad parent in the threesome, since her son Donovan began displaying antisocial behavior early in elementary school. Meredith was the parenting expert, holding up her daughter Sadie’s good grades and talent like trophies. Like most pre-teens, Teddy and Sadie were on social media to stay connected to their friends – Instagram and Snapchat their preferred platforms – and like most of their friends they had Finstas – fake Instagram accounts so that their parents wouldn’t find any damning evidence when checking up on them. All of that was about to change.
Teddy’s suspension is the focal point du jour and Meredith is quick to judge while Nadia feels she has a new compatriot, until Sadie’s own impulsivity takes the stage.
Just when it seems it can’t get worse, Alice’s boss starts undercutting her at work and her mother Evelyn announces that she’s reunited with a daughter she gave up for adoption — a psychologist with two untainted children. Evelyn hopes that her daughters will be as close as sisters, but Alice is having none of it.
If you’re a parent, the teen’s choices will make you wince and the rivalry between Alice, Nadia, and Meredith will be uncomfortably familiar. Nonetheless, under West’s careful hand, you’ll be able to laugh while you cry.
I recommend ARE WE THERE YET for fans of Maria Semple, Jennifer Weiner, and Emily Giffin.
This is Lin Salisbury with Superior Reviews.