ARC Review: Just Visiting

1:18 PM Serena 0 Comments

Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler
Expected Publication Date: November 17th, 2015
Format/Source: eARC, courtesy of the author. Thank you, Dahlia!
Part of a series? Nope. It's a standalone. 
Rating: 5/5 stars

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.

Dahlia graciously emailed me an eARC of Just Visiting months and months ago, but I put off reading it for months and months because a whole bunch of life things happened at once and there just wasn't time. I love her other three published books (Under the Lights being one of my favorite books of the year), so I knew that I wanted to be able to dedicate a chunk of time to devouring this book. So that's what I did this weekend. And I'm so glad I finally did because Just Visiting is just as wonderful as I thought it would be. 

All of Dahlia's books celebrate diversity, and Just Visiting is no exception. Victoria is a Mexican American who is fluent in ASL because of her deaf mother, and Reagan grew up in poverty and has to work crazy hours to make ends meet. These characters live in diverse situations, but they're written in a way that their differences aren't all they are. So often authors focus on making their characters diverse, that there's no other depth to them at all, especially authors who write outside of diverse situations that aren't their own, but that isn't the case with Reagan and Vic. Their struggles and their voices felt incredibly real, especially as I myself am trying to do with my life after high school. 

Another thing that was so refreshing about Just Visiting was the strong female friendship. I've read countless YA novels where girls are pitted against each other or the friendship is put on the back burner because of a boy, and though Vic and Reagan are so different and they had their issues, this never happened. They supported each other and worked out their problems together, and it was so great to read. These are two girls who grow individually and grow in their friendship, and I loved seeing them learn about themselves and each other throughout the course of the novel. 

And just because the novel wasn't centered around romance, it doesn't mean that there wasn't a cute boy in the mix because there totally was. Dev Shah is a dream. A dorky, nerdy, adorable dream who says the sweetest things. I love that he didn't give up on Rae. 

Another relationship that brought the biggest smile to my face was that between Victoria and her family. I loved that she was super close to her parents and brother and that even though she wanted to get away after high school, she also had trouble with the idea that she would be far from her mom. That's something else I definitely relate to, and it adds to the growing list of things I loved about this book. 

Just Visiting is a beautiful coming of age novel about family, relationships, and friendship that will last. I loved every bit of this story, and I cried (mostly) happy tears. I definitely recommend you give it a chance when it comes out (its release is just ten short days away!), and let me know what you think.