9 Nov 2015

Review: Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler

Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler
November 17th, 2015 · Spencer Hill Contemporary
Source: Author
Format: eARC
Page Count: 348
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. 
In the words of Vic: Tia Maria! This is one fabulous book.

I'm not usually a fan of dual narration, but Just Visiting made it work so well. Normally it would take me a while to find my groove and adjust to two voices, but I sank into this book like a fluffy marshmallow and didn't give it a second thought because I was too busy turning the pages. Apart from jotting down a note as to how well the POVs were written, of course.

The diversity in the book is just SO GREAT. Truly. It's weaved in effortlessly and as always, you can see that Dahlia has done her research. For one, Victoria is fluent in ASL because her mum is deaf and I don’t think I’ve ever seen this done in a YA novel before. It was great and as much as I enjoyed it, I think I would have loved this particular aspect even more now that I’ve discovered the TV show Switched at Birth, one of my latest obsessions. (And hey, on another note, you should totally check out that show.) It also includes a cast that's diverse in race (Victoria is Mexican and one of the love interests is Indian) and socioeconomic class.

I already liked the girls, but I really came to love them when we got to delve into their pasts. This fleshed them out and allowed us to get to know them; where they've been and where they're going. Reagan and Vic are both very different and I think this is also why they complement each other in friendship and from a reading perspective. They both offer something different - to each other and for the reader. They aren't without their flaws, but they care for one another so much. It’s a beautiful friendship and the kind I love to see being represented in YA.

More reasons I love JV? I won’t spoil it, but there's this scene that deals with contraception and it's handled so well. Some authors might have simplified it or skipped over it altogether; I know this because I remember reading this scene once that was so dismissive of the subject it’s stuck with me, even though the book hasn’t. But Dahlia does’t take the easy route and has handled the subject with such grace. You’ll know it when you read it.

To sum up: Just Visiting is for you, if you like:

- Well written stories with heart and humour
- fleshed out characters
- books brimming with diversity
- awesome friendships to ship

Basically, what more could you want in a book?

P.S. I'll be hosting a Twitter party with the author to celebrate the release next week. Come for some fun, a Q&A, book chatting & more. 

Save the date:
8PM EST on the 18th (US)
 9AM AWST on the 19th (AUS, WA)
Not sure if you'll be able to make it? Check your time zone here!

Use the #JVParty hashtag to join in. Hope to see you there!

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