Review Blog

Jun 17 2008

Are we there yet? by David Levithan

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Harper Collins, 2007
(Age 15+) Two brothers, tricked into holidaying together in Italy, find that they are worlds apart. Together they drift through Venice, Florence and Rome, seeing the same sights but from a totally different perspective, recalling the happier days of their shared childhood, when the older brother, Danny, looked out for his sibling, Elijah, ten years younger.
When Elijah meets a girl, Julia, the hesitation between the two brothers becomes more openly hostile, and an approach by Julia towards Daniel, becomes a secret he keeps from his brother. Elijah and Julia meet and have dinner, staying at Julia's hotel, leaving Danny to fend for himself, but when Julia has dinner with Elijah on Independence Day, her toast is 'to the end'. Elijah, set adrift, must reunite with his brother. Danny in the meantime has run into an old friend, and has realized what little he has apart from work. The two brothers meet again at the Pantheon and here their journeys come together.
The descriptions of the sights they see are wonderful. Levithan uses imagery which is at once familiar, and startling. His familiarity with the journey through Italy's past creates a marvelous backdrop to the story of the two brothers, as they meet at museums and galleries, eat together and then alone or with Julia, regurgitating the slights of the past. The story recreates the tension between them, slowly building as they journey towards the inevitable coming together when they realise what they have lost and how easy it is to repair the rift. A wonderful coming of age story, both Elijah and Danny are complete characters, with foibles and behaviours that are as endearing as they are annoying. A treat for upper secondary students and adults alike.
Fran Knight

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