It feels that we've been here before though: 2 brothers with very different personalities are set up by their parents to go on vacation in a faraway European country. With this trip, the parents do hope that 23-year-old Danny and 16-year-old Elijah rekindle their sense of brotherhood and camaraderie.
My first thought upon reading the opening chapters was I wish that my parents would have the same idea. Minus the age gap, I think the dynamic between David and Elijah is more or less similar to my relationship with my brother. Those who have brothers completely understand when I say that it's a very weird dynamic, that between brothers. One minute you're literally grabbing each other's throats; the next, you're asking money from each other. Inexplicably, your brother is your best friend and your worst enemy at the same time.
Are We There Yet? isn't fluff. While Levithan does fall short in providing a strong sense of place for the cities that the brothers visit, he does focus on a historical Jewish ghetto in Venice. And that portion of the trip creates a significant impression on David and Elijah.
Of course, there has to be hints of romance, or at least the possibility of a romance. So enter a college girl named Julia who comes between David and Elijah. Both become smitten, but none of them don't get the girl. In fact, Julia is instrumental in making Elijah realize how much he misses the girl he left at his prep school.
Are We There Yet? is charming. It's one of David Levithan's novels that do not have a major gay or lesbian character, but it's still enjoyable nonetheless. For one, it makes you want to pack your bags and leave for Venice, or Florence, or Rome! I know I want to. And the masochist in me wants to bring my brother along.
Read this book if:
- You love Italy.
- You know the pros and cons of traveling with a family member.
- Because David Levithan.