Monday, January 04, 2016

Review: Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler

           Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler
Release Date: November 17, 2015 
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary  
Source: Beta Reader for Author/ARC
Reagan Forrester wants out—out of her trailer park, out of reach of her freeloading mother, and out of the shadow of the relationship that made her the pariah of Charytan, Kansas.

Victoria Reyes wants in—in to a fashion design program, in to the arms of a cute guy who doesn't go to Charytan High, and in to a city where she won't stand out for being Mexican.

One thing the polar-opposite best friends do agree on is that wherever they go, they’re staying together. But when they set off on a series of college visits at the start of their senior year, they quickly see that the future doesn’t look quite like they expected. After two years of near-solitude following the betrayal of the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart, Reagan falls hard and fast for a Battlestar Galactica-loving, brilliant smile-sporting pre-med prospective... only to learn she's set herself up for heartbreak all over again. Meanwhile, Victoria runs full-speed toward all the things she thinks she wants… only to realize everything she’s looking for might be in the very place they've sworn to leave.

As both Reagan and Victoria struggle to learn who they are and what they want in the present, they discover just how much they don't know about each other's pasts. And when each learns what the other’s been hiding, they'll have to decide whether their friendship has a future.
Y'all, when I was given the chance to Beta read this novel for Dahlia, I was so excited. Not only did it sound fabulous but it had an Indian love interest (YASSSS--also how I got to Beta; I'm all about accurate representation). Just Visiting was my first  book by Dahia Adler and it won't be the last. Probably one of the best YA bridge books I've read in a long time--the bridge between high school and college--Just Visiting is all about that time in our lives where we have to make life altering decisions.

So college isn't for everyone. That's kind of a given fact but how do you know it's not for you? Do you have some sort of epiphany or does someone make the decision for you? That's one of the biggest things Just Visiting tackles: when we've only been given one option our entire lives, how do we decide if we can change that? For Victoria and Reagan, their lives are calling for two different things: Reagan's fit in too well and she wants out and Victoria hasn't fit in at all. To be honest, this book spoke to me on so many levels. First, I've wanted to be a lawyer since I was 4. Hell, I thought being a lawyer was all about arguing. But it wasn't until I was in college that I realized that even though college was the right decision for me, maybe the timing was off. Maybe I should have taken time off to figure out my life. That's why I loved how much Reagan and Victoria grew throughout this novel. Both girls found that even though they didn't love their small hometown, it held the key to who they were.

 Victoria and Reagan reminded me of a relationship that is very important to me: the relationship between my best friend and me. She stayed in the town we went to high school but I left my parents home. She's at a community college and I'm at a 4 year university. It's such a different time in our lives even though we're best friends. Like Reagan and Victoria, its been tough to get over the distance and allow the distance to get between our friendship. Over the past three years we've grown up and apart but gotten closer too. It was a rude awakening for the two of us to realize that we'd be just as close as we were in high school but like the two girls in this book, we realized that it wasn't a bad thing. I appreciated that Reagan and Victoria didn't always get along. They said things they shouldn't have and did things the other didn't approve of. And that's okay. It's okay, Reagan and Victoria learned to not always get along and to do things the other didn't approve of. It was their way of finding their feet, finding themselves and what they want for their live and it was wonderful to see. Female friendships are important to depict accurately but this doesn't meant that friends don't get into arguments or say things they don't mean. As much as people like to depict female friendships as perfect relationships, they're not and I liked that the imprecations could be shown without the girl on girl hate.

Of course, I want to talk about the cultural representation of this book as well since it's so close to my heart. Something Victoria and I have in common is that we're both legal immigrants to this country. For Victoria, who's Hispanic, people in this southern town often call her family illegals and the backlash is harsh. Like Victoria, I understand wanting to leave a town where we didn't belong to go somewhere new, somewhere more accepting. Reagan, coming from a poor family in the south also faced some of her own hardships and I liked the representation of a socioeconomic background that wasn't rich or even middle class. Reagan's struggle is one that is so like the struggle of children all of this country that we never talk about and I liked that Adler was able to go there. ALSO ALSO ALSO ALSO Indian boy as a love interest and I LOVED HIM. He was adorable and fabulous and nerdy and UGH PERFECTION. I can't say more because spoilers but I totally fell in love.

Overall, I loved Just Visiting. The right amount of heart, friendship, romance, new beginnings, and just a great story made Just Visiting the perfect story. Reagan and Victoria change and grow throughout this novel and I can't really say how or why their chance is so important but it is. I'm not the biggest fan of New Adult but I am more than willing to read more books like Just Visiting that bridge the gap between YA and NA.

I love this book like it was family. I know, in case of a fire, I'd save this book. It’s amazing, stunning, and mind blowing. I would re-read this book lots and lots of times. It might even be a favorite. I would recommend this book to EVERYONE, EVER.

I can't even to tell y'all how much I love this book! I think everyone, and I mean everyone, should read this one!   
I'm in love with this cover. It's so simple and beautiful. I also appreciate how Victoria and Reagan are wearing the same type of clothes with their own flair.

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