Sixteen-year-old Elijah is completely mellow and his 23-year-old brother Danny is completely not, so it’s no wonder they can barely tolerate one another. So what better way to repair their broken relationship than to trick them into taking a trip to Italy together? Soon, though, their parents’ perfect solution has become Danny and Elijah’s nightmare as they’re forced to spend countless hours together. But then Elijah meets Julia, and soon the brothers aren’t together nearly as much. And then Julia meets Danny and soon all three of them are in a mixed-up, turned-around, never-what-you-expect world of brothers, Italy, and love.
I wanted to read this book because it was written by David Levithan. And I can see him in it. Considering this book was published in 2005, I was amazed, once again, at how much writers grow over the course of time. But that style though. It’s not David Levithan. It’s the way the book is formatted, I guess. I have no idea what it’s called, I have no idea what exactly I don’t like about it, all I know is I hate it. This:
The phone rings at an ungodly hour. Elijah looks at the blur of his clock as he reaches for the sound. Eleven in the morning on a Saturday. Who can be calling him at eleven in the morning on a Saturday? Cal, his best friend, stirs from somewhere on the floor. Elijah picks up the phone and murmurs a greeting.
It’s like saying this:
This story starts out with a boy named Jason. He is 16 years old, and desperately wants a car he knows he cannot have. His best friend is named John. Jason has a nemesis named Mark. Jason hates Mark. The feeling is mutual. Jason gets up from his bed and turns his alarm off. He heads for the bathroom. Jason brushes his teeth. He is feeling dizzy. He thinks it’s because of something Mark gave him. He goes to lie down, but trips and falls on his way there. Everything goes blank.
Can you see what I’m saying here? Everytime I try to describe it, it doesn’t work. I mean–look at first person. It works, no matter what way you write it.
My name is Mark. I’m sixteen years old, and I desperately want a car I know I cannot have. My best friend’s name is John. My nemesis’s name is Mark. I hate Mark. The feeling is mutual. I get from my bed and turn my alarm off. I head for the bathroom. I brush my teeth. I’m feeling dizzy. Maybe it’s because of something Mark gave me, I think to myself. I go to lie down but I trip and fall on my way there. Everything goes blank.
And then there’s past tense. My name is Mark. I was sixteen years old then, and I desperately wanted a car I know I couldn’t have. My best friend’s name was John. My nemesis’s name was Mark. I hated Mark. The feeling was mutual. I got up from my bed and turned my alarm off. I headed for the bathroom. Yada yada yada. You get the impression. Moving on to second person past and present tense.
My name is Mark. I’m sixteen years old, and I desperately want a car I know I cannot have. You, John, are my best friend at the time.
And third person past and present, and so on. I guess ARE WE THERE YET is a form of third person, considering it’s not written to anyone and it’s not from anyone’s perspective. Still though, this type of third person bothers me. I’ve tried to get used to it. I just can’t. I can read it, and I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the main story behind this book. I did, I just couldn’t get a full feel for the writing.
I think it’ll be interesting to compare this book with David Levithan’s latest novel, EVERY DAY. I generally enjoy Levithan’s stories and I can’t wait to see how his books continue. 2.5 stars.
pg count for the hardback: 215
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