Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler

Title: Just Visiting
Author: Dahlia Adler
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Release Date: November 17, 2015
Source: ARC from author
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
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 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 he 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.

I have yet to meet a book by Dahlia Adler that I haven’t loved. And every time I hear she has a new one coming out, I get really excited. It’s just one of those things. When I heard about Just Visiting, it had all the makings of a book I would love. And I did, in fact, absolutely love Just Visiting.

Reagan and Victoria have a plan: they’re going to finish high school and get out of Charytan, Kansas together to go to college. All they have to do is get through this last year and figure out which college they will go to. Or at least that’s always been their plan. But as they start visiting colleges, Reagan and Victoria realize that the plan might not be what they want anymore. Reagan is still determined to leave the trailer park behind and she won’t let herself fall for a boy again. Except for that one boy she meets on a college visit. She knows it’s never going to work, but she can’t help it. Victoria has been looking forward to the day where she will be in a city where she won’t be the only Mexican. Going away to college seems to be the solution. But the more colleges she visits, the more she realizes that what she wants might be in the place where she already is. As Reagan and Victoria figure out what they want, they can’t help but fear that what they discover about themselves and each other could mean the end of their friendship.

As I’ve already said, I’ve yet to meet a book written by Dahlia Adler that I haven’t loved. She just has a way of writing stories that works for me, no matter what they’re about. When I first heard about Just Visiting, I was so excited. Not only was it a contemporary romance (which, you know, Emilie bait) but it was one that put a strong focus on friendship. And not just any friendship, but awesome girl friendship. So yeah, I was excited and I want it to read it. And once I started reading, Just Visiting didn’t disappoint me. I loved how well Dahlia Adler captured that feeling that comes with choosing what path you’re going to take after high school, those feelings that come with thinking you know what you want but realizing that what you actually want is something completely different and not knowing what to do about it, and the confusion that comes from trying to make what you want line up with what everyone else around you wants. That combined with the romance and friendship just made for a compelling story and it just worked for me. 

On paper, Reagan and Victoria didn’t really make sense as friends and I think that’s why I loved them so much. Because their friendship wasn’t so much about what they had in common so much as it was about them being there for each other and supporting the other. And I loved that their friendship wasn’t perfect. It made it feel that much more real. It doesn’t hurt that Reagan and Victoria were also pretty fantastic outside of their friendship with each other. Even when she didn’t necessarily make it easy, I loved Reagan from pretty early on and I wanted the best for her. When I finally found out everything that had happened to her, my heart completely broke for her and it just reinforced how much I wanted her to get some good and happiness. And I understood Victoria on so many levels, especially when it came to fitting together what she wanted with what she thought everyone expected her to do. I admired her passion and her loyalty and I wouldn’t have minded having a friend like her. But who I really want to mention is Dev. I mean, can we take a moment to discuss just how adorable and sweet he was? Because he absolutely was and a smile broke out on my face anytime he made an appearance. 

Dahlia Adler’s Just Visiting was everything I had hoped it would be. This story perfectly balanced friendship and romance and truly captured the challenges that come with choosing what to do after high school. And it should obviously go without saying that if you haven’t yet read one of Dahlia Adler’s books yet, you should get on that.

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