Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Review: Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler

Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler 
Series: Standalone
Published: November 17th, 2015
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
348 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Acquired this book: From the author in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

Other books by Dahlia:
{My review of Behind the Scenes || My review of Under the Lights || 

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.

Just Visiting is a book that does something rare and wonderful: it focuses on friendship in all its wonderful, messy, complicated, beautiful glory. The book has elements of romance, and the story deals with a lot of other real-life issues, but the main focus of the book is friendship, and I love that.

Victoria and Raegan are very different people. They have different home lives, different hobbies, different goals. They’re both sort of outcasts for different reasons, but when they befriended each other, they found something magical - true friendship, the kind that can get through anything.

The friendship between Vic and Rae was realistic and hit close to home for me in a lot of ways. All of Adler’s books have had some aspect that truly spoke to me on a personal level, and in Just Visiting, it was the main theme of the book: friendship. I'm going to get personal for a bit here...I had friendships similar to Raegan and Vic’s in high school. My best friend and I planned everything around each other and there were times when she practically lived with me because her home life was so crappy. But she was secretive and started doing things behind my back, and it slowly caused cracks in our relationship. We went to the same college, same program and everything...but more secrets, more lies, and she ended up dropping out before the first semester was even over. It was devastating, and things were never the same between us. My other best friend went away for college. We talked all the time and saw each other whenever she came home. Her college course was only a year long, and after that she went to university. She made new friends, had her first boyfriend, and this distance grew between us until we barely spoke or saw each other anymore. But then a couple years ago, we started talking here and there again, and ended up reconnecting and are now closer than ever. We even spent two weeks travelling through Europe together this past summer. Sometimes people’s differences can’t be overcome, and sometimes hurt feelings and anger can’t be overcome. I was glad to see Raegan and Vic work through things, even though it wasn’t always easy. They truly loved each other and wanted each other to be happy. They learned a lot about themselves and each other, and about friendship in general.

Other things in this book I appreciated: how realistic the romance was between Raegan and Dev. It was complicated and caused a lot of confusion, which sums up a lot of relationships when you're a teen. I also really liked how close Vic was to her family. We get something else that’s quite rare in YA: parents who are involved in their kid’s life. Vic loved her parents and they loved her; she actually enjoyed spending time with them and wanted to tell them things. They cared about her education, her hobbies, and wanted her to have friends. It was refreshing after seeing so many absent parents in books. One of my absolute favourite stand-out things about this book was that there was a deaf character. My brother is deaf, as are his in-laws, and we live in a town with one of the few deaf schools in the country, so I’ve been surrounded by the deaf community my whole life. Even though it was a side character who was deaf, it still made me really happy. I also grinned a few times when Vic and Rae said they signed to each other when they didn’t want people to know what they were saying, because I specifically taught some of my friends signs in high school so we could communicate ‘secretly’ when we didn’t want others to know what we were saying.

Another common reaction to Adler’s books: me crying at the end. With her last book, Under the Lights, I happy-cried through the last 10% because it was so perfect and beautiful. With Just Visiting, I cried in the epilogue because, again, it was perfect. It was bittersweet but realistic and I was glad to see the girls happy and doing what was right for them.

Just Visiting is a realistic look at the trials and triumphs in friendship. It captured that feeling of uncertainty about the future when you’re a teenager and getting ready to set out into the ‘real world’. I would definitely recommend Just Visiting to fans of contemporary YA.

Have you read Just Visiting? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? What are some of your favourite books with strong friendships? Let's talk here or on Twitter!

1 comment:

  1. How have I not heard of this one? Sounds very cute and I love YA contemporary.


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