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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Seventeen-year-old Nora Holmes is an artist, a painter from the moment she could hold a brush. She inherited the skill from her grandfather, Robert, who's always nurtured Nora's talent and encouraged her to follow her passion. Still, Nora is shocked and elated when Robert offers her a gift: an all-expenses-paid summer trip to Europe to immerse herself in the craft and to study history's most famous artists. The only catch? Nora has to create an original piece of artwork at every stop and send it back to her grandfather. It's a no-brainer: Nora is in! Unfortunately, Nora's mother, Alice, is less than thrilled about the trip. She worries about what the future holds for her young, idealistic daughter—and her opinions haven't gone unnoticed. Nora couldn't feel more unsupported by her mother, and in the weeks leading up to the trip, the women are as disconnected as they've ever been. But seconds after saying goodbye to Alice at the airport terminal, Nora hears a voice call out: "Wait! S…

And We’re Off

by Dana Schwartz

Overall Book Review:

When seventeen-year-old Nora is accepted into a summer art program in Ireland she’s elated. However, the anticipation of a summer of independence comes to a screeching halt when her mother decides to “crash the party” and join her. Nora is livid and throws several fits throughout the trip about her mother coming along. She is the kind of character that teenagers will maybe relate to and mothers will likely want to give her a little love slap because she tends to be a bit whiny and disrespectful. On one hand, you can see Nora’s perspective of losing the opportunity for independence that she was looking forward to. On the other hand, Nora’s mom who’s crashing said party, is really struggling with many things in her life and just wants to escape reality for a short time. You can understand both sides of the story.

And We’re Off is a light read that doesn’t really delve into things too much, and it felt like a few things were hinted at without resolution (i.e. the identity of Nora’s biological father). The dialog felt real and the characters were interesting, but I would’ve liked to get to know them a little better. (Side note:  One thing to be aware of is that there is a lot of underage drinking happening and a little bit of glamorizing smoking.) Nora gets to visit some amazing places and you can’t help but want to jump on a plane and head to Europe after reading this. Those who enjoy a quick read about European travel and trying to find yourself (especially teenage girls wishing to be in Nora’s shoes) will likely enjoy And We’re Off.

Review of an Advance Reader’s Copy provided by the Publisher for Review

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  17 religious exclamations; 3 mild obscenities; 1 religious profanity; 1 derogatory name; 8 scatological words; 5 anatomical terms; 11 f-word derivatives.

Violence/Gore:  Several (13) brief incidents including character fantasizing about strangling people (a joke); metaphor of knife twisting in stomach; imagining someone being a bad guy who kicks babies; want to punch someone; imagining knife in stomach (joke); reference to character who was decapitated; reference to serial killer; story that mentions suicide; reference to someone who cut off ear and shot self; secondhand report of killer; reference to The Hunger Games when characters compete to the death; references to zombies.

Sex/Nudity:  Many (41) brief incidents including flirting; kissing; character imagines being sexy; dancing; arm around; hand on shoulder; holding hands; character makes references to other characters and things being sexy; picture of two men making out; picture of two men in a tub; reference to breasts; reference to sexually transmitted infections; character hears lewd comments made (no further detail); teenage character imagines living with someone and he cheats on her; second-hand reports of teenagers having sex; reference to reproduction; reference to pubic hair painted in picture; story mentions attempted rape; teen character wants to have sex; second-hand report that unmarried character gets pregnant by boyfriend who is referenced as being a sperm donor; candy looks like naked toddler; character’s legs in another’s lap while kissing; teenage characters sleeping beside each other; reference to nude painting; reports of teenagers having sex.

Mature Subject Matter:

Divorce, underage drinking, reports of teenage sex.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Characters smoking; picture of someone smoking; reference to a drug deal; reference to character smoking pot; many references to characters drinking alcohol; character imagines smoking; several incidents of characters drinking at parties or bars, often those characters are underage.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I love being able to help busy parents who just don’t have the time to pre-screen all their children’s books and know how much I appreciate it as my sons have gotten older. I feel very blessed that my amazing husband makes it possible for me to be a stay-at-home mother to four amazing boys. When not reading or enjoying time with my family, I like baking, especially trying new recipes, and the occasional sewing project.