Monday, 13 October 2014

Are we there yet? by David Levithan

Are we there yet? (2005) (HarperCollins)
David Levithan
Grade: B--
Genre: young adult
Source: own
Young adult RBC 2014: A book set in the summer 

Danny Silver isn’t used to sharing anything with his younger brother Elijah. Seven years older, there was a time when they were inseparable with their role-playing games and brotherly camaraderie, but on embarking into full teenager-hood, Danny grew too old for the games they used to play and the brothers have drifted apart ever since.

Elijah is now 17 and it’s time to start thinking about college applications. Danny is 24 and in advertising at Gladner, Gladner, Smith & Jones. Danny thinks that Elijah is too nice, while Elijah knows that Danny can’t stand his laidback nature. When the pair are tricked into going to Italy together by their parents, Danny and Elijah are forced to re-evaluate their relationship as they know it in the breathtaking surrounds of Venice, Florence and Rome. When a girl is added to the equation, love teaches both Danny and Elijah all they need to know about each other, and themselves.

David Levithan is a somewhat rising name in UK young adult today. My company has published a number of his books (not including this one) and launched a campaign this summer in a bid to persuade the public to read David Levithan ‘Every Day’ (review coming soon). That said, I’ve only read a couple and last summer, I thought that AWTY? would be a good place to get started again, given how thin the book is. Little did I know that I would put it down for a year before finishing it – as I do.

Told in alternate perspectives each chapter, AWTY? shows a relationship not of continuing conflict, but rather resigned tolerance. To be honest, it’s not that different to how I imagine my sisters and I feel about each other on occasion, heightened in some respects yet muted in others: always ready to criticise and pick a fight of we’re so in the mood, but still with some areas in which we’re more inclined to be nice to each other (usually where there’s some sort of mutual benefit to be gained). We may not be as distant as Danny and Elijah, but I think there were some great lessons to be learnt for whatever kind of relationship you have with your siblings.

I’m not fond of the abstractness that you find in some young adult like this, but that was fine. This was a fairly light read and I suppose could be for either sex, though probably leans more towards girls, even though the protagonists are boys. I did enjoy the settings. I went to Venice for three days in 2007 (about the same amount of time as Danny and Elijah) though I haven’t yet had the fortune of visiting Florence and Rome. Definitely more inclined to visit and I hope I have the same breathtaking experiences as David Levithan conveyed across for Danny and Elijah. And, on an annoyed note, HarperCollins: you should have totally bought the right to use this beautiful cover for your edition. Shame on you.

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction.

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