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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FRIDAY THOUGHTS: BOOKS, SOCIAL MEDIA, ETC.

My mornings in this little office nook are productive…but sometimes frustrating.

I love blog visiting, and even connecting on Facebook, but sometimes I have to steer myself away from that site.  There is a lot of hate there.  Especially in response to some of the thoughts written by FB friends.  Disagreement about the political situation in our country has turned to venom from some. 

Those FB friends to whom these thoughts are written should probably change their privacy settings and block some people.  Not that we can’t handle disagreement, but when it turns dark and menacing, we may need to take a different stance.

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I am going to stay away from the FB feed for a while, and read only the comments from friends.  I have a good book to read.  Anatomy of a Scandal, by Sarah Vaughan, is capturing my interest, and I love the various perspectives offered.  We see the past, in the 1990s, when the main characters were at Oxford…and then the present, with a very scandalous trial going on, with one of the primary characters charged with rape.

 

Synopsis:  An astonishingly incisive and suspenseful novel about a scandal amongst Britain’s privileged elite and the women caught up in its wake.

Sophie’s husband James is a loving father, a handsome man, a charismatic and successful public figure. And yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to rip them apart.

Kate is the lawyer hired to prosecute the case: an experienced professional who knows that the law is all about winning the argument. And yet Kate seeks the truth at all times. She is certain James is guilty and is determined he will pay for his crimes.

Who is right about James? Sophie or Kate? And is either of them informed by anything more than instinct and personal experience? Despite her privileged upbringing, Sophie is well aware that her beautiful life is not inviolable. She has known it since she and James were first lovers, at Oxford, and she witnessed how easily pleasure could tip into tragedy.

Most people would prefer not to try to understand what passes between a man and a woman when they are alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in an elevator… Or alone in the moonlit courtyard of an Oxford college, where a girl once stood before a boy, heart pounding with excitement, then fear. Sophie never understood why her tutorial partner Holly left Oxford so abruptly. What would she think, if she knew the truth?

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In books, and in life, there are different perspectives about events that transpire.  I am enjoying this one.

What are you reading?  What captures your attention?

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