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.

Alice and some of her friends alternately narrate the story in Are We There Yet?, revealing the issues that are turning their lives upside down because of their children and social networking.

I felt a special connection to Alice, whose interior design career, along with her need to be a good parent, changes dramatically because of the actions of her twelve-year-old son. Other mothers react differently, and some look in judgment on Alice, even when their own children make similar mistakes. Dealing with the injustice of it kept me rooting for Alice.

Meanwhile, a secret from Alice’s mother’s past changes up the family as well.

Watching these characters navigate the turmoil of the tween years and the challenges of family life kept me turning the pages, eager for more. 4.5 stars for this delightful read.

***

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