Cover Image: Are We There Yet?

Are We There Yet?

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Member Reviews

Entertaining novel on the challenges of modern parenting

If you are a parent, you know the struggle of balancing work, home, and community demands. Are We There Yet? captures the nature of parenting today with insight and humor. The story is told from alternating perspectives of three mothers and their 13 year old children. The kids are new to social media and making plenty of mistakes, and the moms are just trying to keep up with it all. Fans of the TV shows like "Working Moms" and "Little Fires Everywhere" will enjoy this one.
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My biggest fear when I have children is becoming "one of those moms", which is just what Alice became. I think we all do / will at some point and it's inevitable.
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A pet peeve of mine is when writers get K-12 education all wrong. Kathleen West nails it, and she should as an experienced public school teacher. I have also read her first novel, Minor Dramas and Other Catastrophes. West has definitely found her niche in women’s fiction — affluent suburban #momlife with tweens and teens. For fans of Katherine Center, Jennifer Weiner, and Liane Moriarity.
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Are you the parent of a middle schooler? If so, this is the book for you.

On second thought, maybe not. 🤔 

Are We There Yet? is the story of a suburban set of women and their children, but the main focus is on one of the moms, Alice Sullivan. Alice thinks she’s got a pretty good handle on the mom thing until she discovers her daughter is struggling with reading and her son might be a bully, all in the same day.

When Alice digs deeper she realizes there’s a whole level to the teen social status she had no idea existed. Suddenly, Alice’s status plummets amongst the other moms, now relegated as one of “those parents” who can’t control her child. It’s a jarring conclusion, but one that Alice herself has jumped to about others before.

As if dealing with this fallout wasn’t enough, her mother reveals a secret that she’s kept for thirty years that changes everything. With her life in total upheaval, Alice has to start over in so many ways. The problem is, where does she even begin?

Are We There Yet? is a timely tale about what it’s like to be a parent in present day suburbia. I’m not a parent myself, but I have many friends with middle school aged children currently navigating the landmine of social media pitfalls. It’s a whole new world- one where in some ways children are savvier than their parents, another where parents underestimate the pressure of social influence. 

But it happens with adults too. This is evidenced with Alice in this story. In a world where you can curate the perfect life online, no one, of any age, is immune.

Thanks to @berkleypub and @netgalley for an advanced copy of this book that’s out NOW!
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Alice Sullivan is a busy mom.  A husband who travels for work.  She has a busy job as an interior decorator.   Two good kids - at least she thinks they're good.  She's also got a great support system, two best friends whose kids are the same age and a very helpful mother who is a doting grandmother to her only grandchildren.  It's busy, but it works.

Until it doesn't.  Her son makes a few bad choices at school.  Her daughter is only reading at level E and where is her reading journal?  Her mom has a family secret.  She's made her two best friends mad.  She can't focus at work and of course, her husband is out of town.  There's a folder sitting on the table that she can't even begin to open.  Soon Alice is dealing with problem after problem and she's bound to crack soon but which problem will do her in.

When reading Are We There Yet? it referenced Liston Heights and I thought that's funny I read a book that took place there recently.  While updating my Goodreads I explored the author and realized not long ago I had read her first book Minor Dramas and Other Catastrophes which took place in Liston Heights.  I really enjoyed both her novels and will definitely put Kathleen West on my to watch list.
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This cover is so eye catching. I wasn’t even sure what it was about, but I had to read it. I thought it was a thriller, that was my mistake, please note it’s not!

I’ve noticed I read a book similar to this one almost monthly. Mom drama, family drama, kids making bad choices. The books always make for an enjoyable read for me, and this was no exception.

If you like engaging family dramas check this one out!

Thanks @berkleypub for my copy.
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Are We There Yet? is Kathleen West’s second novel, and it reminded me of my days teaching middle school. That transition from elementary school is a real one.

This is the story of three friends and their tweens - all of whom are going through some big life changes. And, social media does nothing but complicate things. It hits on timely but complex topics like bullying and sexting. 

It also made me so thankful that social media was not yet a thing until after I graduated from high school.

Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for sharing this with me. All thoughts are my own.
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Alice Sullivan seems to have it all together in life. She’s got a great job, her house will soon be in Elle magazine, and her kids are doing great…or so she thought. Her son Teddy seems to be having behavior issues & her daughter Aidy is having trouble with her reading. Can she get things together?

This one was such a good story! I think many people will find Alice’s character really relatable. I am not a mother, but I still found things about Alice that I could relate to. I appreciated how the POV switches between characters, and allows you to experience the story from multiple characters. Multiple POVs aren’t always the best in books, but it was done well in this one. Overall I really enjoyed this one and it gets 4 stars.
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As a mom who has a child going to middle school next year, this one gave me the heebie jeebies and made me nervous. All the points of view were a bit jarring at times and I just wanted to slap some of the parents. Overall it was a really fast read and it definitely was on the money for the things our kids face.
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Things are going along swimmingly for Alice Sullivan, but one day when she learns that her daughter is having trouble with her work in second grade, and then her son is accused of bullying, her perfect world goes awry.
Alice, who treasures her “perfect” life, must face the fact that her son is also creating fake accounts on social media and doing other questionable things, is ostracized by women she thought were her friends. After all, a “good mother” can control her children.
And then, her mother reveals a family secret that goes back more than 30 years. Alice is devastated.
The lesson Alice must learn is that success in raising a family can’t be measured by what her friends think.
A good read!
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Here’s another #momlife book recommendation for you! Especially for those of you with middle schoolers! Eeek! I honestly fear middle school more than I do high school. My daughter will be entering the fifth grade next year, and I am TERRIFIED for what follows after. Only one more year of elementary school left for her. I’m already crying. In Are We There Yet? by Kathleen West, the author tackles so many important themes for this age group: bullying, social media, behavior issues, friendship fallouts, and peer pressure. It really opened my eyes to the dangers of cell phone usage at this age. For instance, kids are making fake Instagram accounts that they hide from their parents, called “Finsta” accounts. Ummm, what? I’ve never heard of that term before. My gosh, I am SO in the dark. I feel like an old lady. Like I’ve said before, I need all of the advice I can get when it comes to parenting tweens and teens. West doesn’t just focus on the kids either. We get a good look at how a child’s behavior and actions can cause strain to the parent’s friendships and relationships as well. The entire family’s social standing is at stake, and riddled with judgement, finger-pointing, and blame. West’s latest is timely, relatable, and extremely thought-provoking. Are We There Yet? is available now, and I highly recommend it!
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From Kathleen West, the author of MINOR DRAMAS & OTHER CATASTROPHES, comes ARE WE THERE YET?, a drama-filled novel about three families stuck navigating the ins, outs and unbelievable aspects of middle school and middle age.

Alice Sullivan finally has parenting, marriage and her career figured out. Her children, preteen Teddy and second-grader Adrian, are both happy and bright; she and her husband, Patrick, are still going strong; and she has just booked partner-making coverage for her design firm in Elle magazine, right on the tails of taking on a high-profile client. Even better, when life throws a tiny curveball her way, she has her best friends, Meredith and Nadia --- both mothers of her son’s classmates --- to help her talk things over with wine and laughter.

But after a cheery coffee date with Nadia one morning, Alice learns that her daughter is not reading at the appropriate level. To make matters worse, her son has been struggling with junior high friendships and has resorted to bullying. As Alice races to and from her children’s schools, she misses an important client meeting, calling into question her priorities at work. How did she not notice her kids falling behind and getting into trouble? And, more importantly, how will she pull her family together, especially with the other moms watching, judging and posting about every mishap on the NextDoor app?

As Alice’s well-maintained life begins to crumble, we hear from the children at the heart of the issue: Teddy, who has started a rivalry with Tane, a former outcast turned teenage heartthrob, and Meredith’s daughter Sadie, whose crush on Tane has thrown her friendship with Teddy into a tailspin. As the kids take questionable photos, post them to their Finstas --- that’s “Fake Instagrams” for those of you who aren’t raising teenagers --- and elude their parents’ careful phone monitoring, a very public feud between Teddy and Tane emerges, and everyone at Elm Creek Junior High is taking sides. With their jabs and betrayals leading the drama, their parents’ relationships start to crumble as well.

Rounding out Alice’s midlife crisis is her mother, Evelyn, who has a secret all her own: she has recently reunited with the daughter she gave up for adoption at 19. As a therapist and generally well-rounded person, Evelyn knows she cannot keep this news from Alice forever. Still, as she watches Alice lose control over her life, she knows she cannot add to the drama. But as the teens, parents and grandparents of Elm Creek are about to find out, nothing stays hidden for very long --- not Finstas, crushes or even secret daughters.

As the dramas play out at school, on apps and in homes, Kathleen West alternates chapters between the perspectives of Alice, Meredith, Teddy, Evelyn, Sadie, Nadia and Tane, exposing their sides of the story, as well as their individual motivations and judgments. Each character is fully realized and perfectly flawed, and I have no doubt that every reader will find someone to root for (I’m totally #TeamSadie for what it’s worth). Rife with misunderstandings, back-stabbings and plenty of heated gossip, ARE WE THERE YET? is both sharply observed and surprisingly heartfelt, not to mention hilarious at just the right times. From graffiti featuring hot pink genitalia (or “rocket ships,” as one naive mom claims) to juvenile pranks and outlandish outbursts, West’s keen examinations of parenting, social media and teenage life are perfectly balanced by a warm wit that keeps her narrative sincere and oh so relatable.

For a novel as steeped in social media hazards as this one, I love that West never completely vilifies apps like Instagram and Snapchat, noting that it is just as important to protect your child as it is to make sure that they are not missing important friendship interactions. More to the point, West often pokes fun at the parents in her book, never completely mocking them, but reminding her readers that we all feel in over our heads at certain points, and that sometimes it means more to talk to a fellow mom than to read a book about what the “perfect” parent might do. Her portrayal of the dangers of social media is sharp and clear-eyed, but also nuanced and forgiving. Who among us hasn’t stayed up all night Facebook-stalking an ex or posting too many poorly captioned Instagram photos?

Be warned that there are a lot of characters here. Rather than trying to keep them separate, I went all in and assumed that the book would take me where I needed to be. Though the drama moves fast, West is careful enough in her characterizations that you’ll have no trouble following along after a few chapters or so. You’ll come for the eye-rolling “I can’t believe she did that” drama, but you’ll stay for the believably unbelievable dysfunction, the genuine characters, and the reminder that --- whether you are in middle school, middle-aged or middle of the road --- we’re all in this together.

Perfect for readers of Emma Straub, Meg Mitchell Moore and Joshilyn Jackson, ARE WE THERE YET? is progressive, engaging and downright fun.
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This book is a great entry in a genre that I call "Mom's Behaving Badly." It's a quick and entertaining read but also has substance and thought provoking ideas about parenting, family, fitting in v. making your own way, and the challenges of social media. Recommend!
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OH, I have such a love hate relationship with this book. Sadly, I gave it two stars for a few reasons.

The writing style is very much like Jane Rosen or Liane Moriarty; multiple POVs, tons of characters, and family drama. BUT, there was absolutely no storyline. Outside of learning about these characters, I was missing the string that I was supposed to follow that kept this group of people tied together. (And you cannot expect me to believe that string was supposed to be the random graffiti everywhere.) The only reason I didn't DNF is because I was waiting for it all to come together in a big bang. *Spoiler alert; it didn't.

Here is where the author won me over:
If you are a parent to a pre-teen, or teenager, this book is for YOU. It so beautifully wrote about motherhood and the relationship families have now. It tied in social media PERFECTLY and gave such a realistic view of what is it like to be a kid today. It included texting drama, snapchat, finstas, and even grading portals. It really was such a job well done. I have never seen someone write so realistically about how kids use snapchat, until this book. The overall themes I took from the book did really stick with me and left me with a lot of thoughts when I finished. Especially about parenting and how we move into a future that includes so much technology.

Overall, I really do have such a hard time recommending this book because I would never recommend this to someone who isn't an avid reader. This is why I think books get a bad rap, there is just no point to the story. It's almost like when you watch a movie, and it ends and your like, "I don't get why that story needs to be told"

Side note: one of my biggest pet-peeves of a book is when the title has NOTHING to do with this story, and this book is totally that.
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In 2020, I read a crazy amount of books. I doubt I will ever top the amount I read!

I’m trying to read as much as I can and just plowed through some of the best novels  I have ever read. I didn’t think another year could possibly compare, but there is an absolute plethora of books that are SO GOOD coming out now and in the next few months.

I cannot stop reading! As soon as I finish one I pick up another.

Here are TWENTY books that you will want to read as soon as they are published.

These are books that will entertain,  make you think, make you laugh, some will have you biting your nails in suspense.  Take a look now and let me know what you will be reading!

2. Are We There Yet by Kathleen West, read if you enjoy family drama.
Among fake Instagram pages, long-buried family secrets, and the horrors of middle school, one suburban mom searches to find herself in a heartfelt and thought-provoking novel from the author of Minor Dramas and Other Catastrophes.

Alice Sullivan feels like she’s finally found her groove in middle age, but it only takes one moment for her perfectly curated life to unravel. On the same day she learns her daughter is struggling in second grade, a call from her son’s school accusing him of bullying throws Alice into a tailspin.

When it comes to light that the incident is part of a new behavior pattern for her son, one complete with fake social media profiles with a lot of questionable content, Alice’s social standing is quickly eroded to one of “those moms” who can’t control her kids. Soon she’s facing the very judgement she was all too happy to dole out when she thought no one was looking (or when she thought her house wasn’t made of glass).

Then her mother unloads a family secret she’s kept for more than thirty years, and Alice’s entire perception of herself is shattered.

As her son’s new reputation polarizes her friendships and her family buzzes with the ramification of her mother’s choices, Alice realizes that she’s been too focused on measuring her success and happiness by everyone else’s standards. Now, with all her shortcomings laid bare, she’ll have to figure out to whom to turn for help and decide who she really wants to be.

Out now!
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Told in many different voices, Are We There Yet takes us into the world of middle schoolers and their parents. It takes a deep dive into social media and what that does to kids. It looks at how parents are trying to do it all perfectly and yet, that really isn't possible, is it? They all have their secrets. They all have their worries and their opinions. They all have a look they want to put out into the world. Everyone wants to keep up with the Joneses and everyone doesn't stop to really look at the big picture. Things happen that make a couple of the parents really have to stop and look at what they are doing or not doing for their kids. I enjoyed how things came to their conclusions. Nothing was just a pat answer.

Thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing for a copy of this book.
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Are you a parent? As a mom, I feel like I had so many feels that connected with this title, especially having a teen in this crazy world we live in - you just never know what could happen in the virtual space combined with peer pressure. It's not just teens either, there's something about feeling like you have to find your place in the community, at work, within your own family & that's something that West conveys SO well with her writing style. 

What I loved most about this title was how West made it so easy to connect with and relate to each of the types of characters and how they reacted to what was happening in their lives. While we may disagree or not like one of them, we know someone that acts just like them, or can imagine how WE would react - it made this book one that left you thinking about yourself, about those around you & I loved discussing it with two different book clubs & the wide variety of reactions we each had to this book. 

Thank you to Berkley + NetGalley for providing me the eARC to read and review in exchange for my own personal thoughts & opinions, this one was certainly one with a lot of those!
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This book was full of family drama. I enjoyed the writing style telling the story from multiple perspectives. It had adults and teens to tell a story about parenting and the influence of social media in teens' lives. I had to keep reading to see how it all unfolded. Thank you to Netgalley for this review copy.
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Junior high is a complicated time for young teens’ relationships, and their mothers’ relationships too. The three moms featured in this book were used to doing everything together, but the changes their kids were going through seemed to be the catalyst for the mom connections to change as well.

Oh, what a day to be Alice! She starts out thinking her biggest concern is that she’ll have to cut her conference with her second grade daughter’s teacher short in order to rush to a career changing work appointment. In the first few minutes of the brief conference, her phone rings repeatedly from her son’s school. That’s just the beginning of everything falling apart, and it may take months or longer to put it all back together.

The characters in this book all felt sort of stereotypical, but that didn’t make them any less real. Unfortunately for the moms, most of their reputations and relationships were quite dependent on their kids. The kids were 12 or 13, and were starting to have more of their own choices to make. Their choices started changing everyone’s idea of who they and their moms were.

Overall, I’d give this book 3 out of 5 stars. The author could definitely portray convincingly what being a mom of a junior high aged kid can be like. This book would be an enjoyable read for those who like fiction, especially involving families.
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I can see why people like this book, but the whole thing fell flat for me. The plot was predictable, and I didn’t connect with any of the characters. The moms all felt one-dimensional; the kids were not interesting; the dads were nonexistent/duds. I’m a middle-aged, relatively affluent mom with a daughter in middle school, so this book and the plot should have resonated with me, but it missed the mark. 

I’ll try another book by this author, but this one was not for me.
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