Are We There Yet? By David Levithan
Published by Harper Collins on July 12th 2005
Buy it here
“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.”
First off I just want to say that this synopses is completely wrong. Both brothers are nice guys, but Elijah is just the better one, or so Danny believes. When they find out they are going to be taking this trip together Danny is not very happy about it, but takes it as a good opportunity for a vacation because his boss has been telling him he must before he can get a raise.His whole world is completely taken up with work and getting things done, so very unlike his laid back pot smoking brother. With a seven-year age gap between the two brothers you can see why this situation could turn sour. But it is not the nightmare that the description entails. Elijah is more than happy to take this trip with his brother, mainly because he is just so super mellow he sees everything in the best possible light. Taking off to Italy the boys experience new things from a different culture, but not in the same way. Danny is commanded by a guide-book while Elijah would just prefer to wander, get lost and find something beautiful. Danny is often peeved by the goodness he sees in Elijah and feels like he can’t live up to him even though he’s the older one. When Elijah meets Julia things change, even though Danny didn’t want to be on this trip suddenly he misses Elijah who is off spending all his time with Julia.Through a series of events Danny starts to understand his brother more and eventually will come to realise things are not always as they seem.
As you can tell our main characters are Danny and Elijah, who are brothers. Danny is a 23-year-old workaholic who believes as a crisis controller, that any problem can be solved with enough forethought. Elijah is the complete opposite, he doesn’t think about much of anything let alone problem solving. He would much prefer to lie in his room with his best friend Cal and get lost of a haze of pot smoke. But with both of these characters there was a lot more than what you saw on the surface. Not just a workaholic, but a man who was deeply lonely with no real sense of how to be a friend. Underneath the relaxed exterior, there was a boy who didn’t want to take on the stress of the real world so instead looked at the pretty things and let the hardships fade into the background.
The characters didn’t really do very much in this story, other than wander around Italy. The only conflict that seemed to arise was when Danny met Julia and things got a little mixed up. Julia seems to be the instigator in this story when things happen, and without her the book wouldn’t have ended the way it did. She takes Elijah on an adventure and changes him in a way that can’t be undone. Although we don’t see much of her she is a very unique person who captures both of the brother’s attention, you could almost say she is as much of a main character as Danny and Elijah are. Through all the trials and tribulations, Danny discovers new things about himself and his brother and was my favorite character in the book. He seemed just that bit more relatable in his struggle to be a better person and love his brother despite his grievances towards him.
I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. There wasn’t anything amazing about it, I just found the characters and setting relaxing to read about. However is wasnt something that got me really excited reading and I wont be rushing to re-read it any time soon. That isn’t to say it’s not a good book, because it is and I loved it. I flew through this book in no time at all, it was a really good quick read to start off my summer reading. My favorite part in the book was when Danny and Elijah are in the Pantheon near the end of the story. They have this wonderful bonding moment looking at the beauty of the museum and thinking about each other and the events that brought them to that point. Also when Elijah first meets Julia, he’s just helped someone who fell in the street and they have this moment where they just look at each other, and its like they are the only two people on the planet. Words cannot explain how good this was and how unique and different the writing was to anything I’ve read before.There would be a few things I would change, like Julia in general, but then the book wouldn’t be what it is now and my enjoyment of it would be different. I don’t know what positive changes could be made, in the sense that the story could be improved, because its pretty good as it is.
I would recommend this book to someone who wants a light, quick read with no drama or teen angst, which you find far to often in Young Adult Fiction.If you like the work of John Green then you’ll love David Levithan. This book is suitable for 15’s and over, due to drug use and sexual references.