Elijah used to idolized his big brother, but growing older has meant growing apart. Their parents coerce them into taking a trip to Italy to reconnect. High school senior stoner Elijah wants to wander and experience, while Danny, a twenty-something ad-exec, wants to stick to the timetable. The two get on one another’s nerves more and more, finding occasional common ground in museums and reminiscence. When Elijah finds romance with a tourista and begins spending all his time with her, Danny finds he not only misses his brother’s presence, but has to confront his sad and lonely life.
The two slightly stereotyped characters quickly become real people who experience a subtle emotional growth as they travel through Venice, Florence and Italy. These beautiful places become a rich background for the inner journey, and the story concludes on Elijah’s philosophy to go for “happy,” rather than “normal.” A strong third novel from Levithan that revisits themes that we all need love, that different is okay, and we all have commonalities that make us human.
This review was originally published on the Hip Librarian’s Book Blog July 12, 2005.