Saturday, November 14, 2015

REVIEW: Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler

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.

Out of all of Dahlia Adler's books, I think this is my current favorite.  There are many things to love about this book and as I sit here I find that my brain is tripping over itself to get all of the things I love about this book out and onto this screen. So without further adieu, here are a few of the reasons I love Just Visiting:

1. So many will relate to it: I think teens will identify the angst of making these tough college decisions (while in still in high school) and juggling jobs and school work and friends.  And, I think many adults will not only remember those exciting and tough decisions but can admit that we also still struggle with making some of the hard life adulthood decisions. #adultingcanbehard

2. The friendship of Reagan and Victoria was wonderful and messy and felt so real. There were many uncomfortable moments between these two--things that weren't said and questions that weren't asked and when those things would bubble to the surface, it created conversations and silences that were sometimes tense, sometimes uncomfortable, and sometimes laugh inducing and I loved it. I loved how loyal they were and how much they wanted the best for the other and I loved that Adler didn't try to make them these perfect humans; she made them real.

3. The struggle was (is) real. I think of my students and know that many of them have the same struggles as Reagan--they're desperate to get out of their current living situations and make something better for themselves. They are working their asses off at school and at jobs and I know that sometimes it feels like they can't catch a break. I bet some of them are scared to death about what happens after high school and are even more terrified at what happens if they don't take a chance to find out. Meanwhile, I know so many will read Victoria's story and totally relate to that uncertainty she felt--how paralyzing it sometimes feel when you need to make a decision and it feels too big, too overwhelming, and too important to mess up.

4. I *think* I've mentioned this in another review for Dahlia Adler's other books, but it's worth repeating. I love that she continues to write characters who are diverse and reflective of the world we live in. I don't live in a vanilla world where I'm surrounded by WASPS and I'm so glad that I have books like Adler's, books that include people with a variety of income backgrounds, racial backgrounds, and abilities. I also love that she spreads the love to nerd girls and not so nerdy girls equally and I think that's important too. 

5. The ending was a nice surprise. I won't spoil it but I really want to. I want to talk about it and ask others what they think but I can't sooooooooo I hope that when others read it, I can pester them about what they thought.

I know that once I have a copy to put in my classroom, this novel will be read and loved by many. I can't wait to get to class on Monday and share my mad love for this book.

Happy reading~~

Find Dahlia Adler here

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