Alice is in the middle of her second grader’s parent-teacher conference, which isn’t going as well as she’d hoped, when her phone rings. A call from the junior high is rarely a good thing, and Alice is horrified to learn her son Teddy has been suspended for bullying.
Alice confides in her closest friends — Meredith, whose daughter Sadie has been friends with Teddy since kindergarten, and Nadia, no stranger to the principal’s office due to her son’s behavioral problems. Only her friends aren’t as supportive as she’d hoped, her husband is out of town for business for the foreseeable future, her boss is not understanding of her family problems, and her mother drops another bomb, revealing a secret she’s kept for Alice’s entire life.
Are We There Yet? by Kathleen West is a multiple POV novel, switching between the moms, Alice and Meredith, the tweens, Teddy and Sadie, and Alice’s own mom, Evelyn. I enjoyed having Teddy’s and Sadie’s viewpoints, and I think West did a good job of getting into the minds of kids who are not handling the transition from elementary school and the onset of puberty very well. Evelyn’s story was the one I liked least and she was way too self-centered for someone who’s a therapist, often deserting her daughter when she really needs her.
I definitely felt for Alice, having been blindsided by behavioral and educational issues with my own kids. Fortunately my friends are a lot more supportive than hers, though Nadia does come through in the end. Alice and Meredith growing apart as their kids grow up also hit home for me.
The use of social media was also spot-on – the posts on NextDoor by nosy neighbors, the kids having Finstas and SnapChat hidden from their parents, a sexting scandal from those you’d least expect it. Some X-rated graffiti appearing all over town adds a lightheartedness to the story, though the hashtag included with it isn’t fully explained.
Parents of middle schoolers, former middle schoolers, or people who were once middle schoolers themselves will enjoy this novel.