First sentence: “Stop it, Nora. You have more self-control than this.”
What can go wrong when you have an all-expenses-paid European trip and are headed to the Donegal Colony for Young Artists (DCYA) in Ireland? For Nora, nothing goes her way.
THINGS YOU’LL FIND IN AND WE’RE OFF
In Europe, Nora must create original pieces of art and send back to her grandfather, the famous painter Robert Parker.
Every city she sets foot in, Nora must create an art piece. She has sealed envelopes with prompts from her grandfather that guides her on what to draw. Readers will be disappointed if they think that the narrative spends a lot of time on the art; it does not. It’s breezed by, usually muddled in the arguments between Nora and her mom and Nora’s disappointment of things not going her way. It wasn’t as memorable as I’d like it to be.
- Nothing ever goes Nora’s way.
Nora’s great adventure throughout Europe becomes a not-so-great one—a disaster in her book. What goes wrong? Her mom decides to tag along on what is supposed to be the best trip of a lifetime. She and her mom constantly bicker and get into fights, where variations of “I never asked you to come with me” is shouted constantly. She can’t do all the things she wanted to do because her mom keeps taking control. Also, nothing works in Nora’s favor like museums being closed or people not looking at her and seeing how ~artistic she is. It’s not the European trip she planned.
- Nora does and feels things we can all relate to.
Nora is full of insecurities—about herself, about her art. She gets too much in her head, thinking she isn’t good enough and that everybody is better at art than she is. She worries her best friend will ditch her when she finds out the truth. She wants people to notice her, and does things like pretend to draw on the hope that somebody sees how focused and talented she is. It’s what I have experienced and done.
- Nora and her mom gets into fights.
Nora and her mom don’t have that great of a relationship. Every conversation ends with frustration and shouting. Sometimes their fights grated on my nerves because I just wanted to move on from those. I wanted to enjoy the art and see the character growths, not witness another argument between an unreasonable mother and a bratty teenager.
- Things happen fast.
I didn’t ever feel like I was rooted in this world. We spend little time exploring the different cities that Nora visits for her art project from her grandfather. I expected to since I wanted to experience what she sees through her drawing lenses, but nope. Then, when she reaches DYCE, I just didn’t care because the transition wasn’t very smooth.
Should you read And We’re Off? Meh. And We’re Off is nothing to squeal in excitement about. I found it quick and unmemorable. I never felt like I was rooted into this world. Everything that happened wasn’t what I expected it to be. It was just a disappointment, much like Nora’s European trip.