Just Visiting Paperback – Nov 17 2015
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Gr 10 Up- Reagan Foster and Victoria Reyes have a simple plan: pick a college and get out of town together. But as the best friends start their weekend road trips to college campuses, things get complicated fast. Their relationship strains under the weight of old secrets and new experiences. Adler's latest book revolves around two very different girls- poor outcast Reagan and Latina fashionista Victoria- who love each other fiercely despite the secrets they hide from each other. This work begins like a cotton candy romp but quickly delves into frank discussions of sex, poverty, and bullying. Regardless, Adler never lets the story stray far from the friendship at its heart. Rea and Vic leap from the page with enough genuine life and emotion to smooth over the fact that background characters often stray too close to caricature, and the ending is satisfying despite being a little too tidy. The book's biggest strength comes from Adler's talent for pinpointing the raw emotion of every situation and building them into the feeling of a freight train barreling toward the girls as they try to decide their futures. VERDICT A complex emotional story in a lighthearted package. Highly recommended for older teens.(Amy Diegelman, Vineyard Haven Public Library, MA School Library Journal)
About the Author
Dahlia Adler is an Associate Editor of Mathematics by day, a blogger for the B&N Teen Blog by night, and writes at every spare moment in between. She is the author of Behind the Scenes, Under the Lights, Last Will and Testament, and Just Visiting. She lives in New York City with her husband and their overstuffed bookshelves.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In Just Visiting, we follow two POVs, Reagan, a girl who lives in a trailer park with her deadbeat parents and is working her behind off, determined to become the exact opposite of them...(yay for this class representation and sharing the realities of what it's like to not even really meet middle class) and her best friend of about two years, Victoria, who is more well off than Reagan but just as lost once she realizes the plans that she had for college won't exactly pan out how she expected. Victoria is Mexican and her being a minority is a subject that is not shied away from in this book which, as a minority, I very much appreciated. Also, her mother is deaf and I really loved the execution of the communication here.
And can we just take a minute to acknowledge that both parents are in the home for both of the main characters?! How rare is that! This was so awesome to see. Yes, the parents have issues but they are together. And that is super refreshing in a land of YA books where parents seem to be all but nonexistent. So, kudos for not only creating parents but making them so complex and making the dynamics so real and raw and exciting.
So Reagan and Victoria's story really kicks off when they make their first visit to their first choice prospective college. All of my own crazy campus visit memories came back when I read this. There's not much to say here without spoiling the book for you but I will say that I quite enjoyed feeling again that rush of excitement pre-college, that feeling of hope and exhilaration and fear and anxiety and determination and surrender and standing your ground as you start over and oh so many feelings when you're graduating high school and starting your freshman year in college. All all of these feelings came back.
And that feeling when you visit college, meet new people, cling to a few of them, sparks fly between you and one of them, and then, and then....well, like I said, I don't want to spoil it. But if this type of nostalgia (and the drama that goes along with it) is something you're in the mood to read, this compelling read will definitely fill your appetite.
Just Visiting is warm and funny, sexy, tense, and encouraging no matter where you are on your own journey as you navigate the roads of love and loss, of life. Plus, there are lots of awesome references. I particularly liked one early one; "I dare you to call Janis Joplin a screaming banshee to her face." Ha! And I don't know if "Freckles" was a reference to Lost or not but that's all I could think about every time it came up.
Anyway, Just Visiting is probably the most quiet of all of Adler's books, I'd say but it's also the absolute perfect summer read, especially for those who have just graduated high school and are making the transition to college and for those in any transition and in need of a reminder that you don't have to do it alone.
I grew up in a rural Midwestern area, and a lot of this world felt familiar. Some people can't wait to get out. Some people will always feel at home. But what I love most is how real and beautifully imperfect this friendship is. The two narrators fight. They see the world differently. They have different (and sometime opposing) goals. They want to stay a team, to stick together, but they've reached a point in their lives where they're not sure it's what's best for both (or either) of them.
Though this book reads like a romance, it's really about the (platonic) love of two young women. A perfect best friends book that perfectly captures the moment when high school best friendship is tested most.
As I was reading this book, I really did not expect to end up liking. I am so glad I kept reading though because things got better and I really ended up enjoying Just Visiting. It was fun, serious, and a really great friendship read. I loved the dynamic Vic and Reagan had and also the story both of them go through. I liked Dhalia's writing and I can't wait to read more from her when I finally get to her other books!
One of the main reasons I questioned my ability to actually finish this book liking it was the fact that I found the main characters really dry and...typical in the beginning. I was actually really bugged by Vic and how annoying she was and how Reagan was kind of a boring person. Over the course of the book though, they definitely get better as characters and by the end, I loved both Vic and Reagan. The character development that Dahlia was able to include was just awesome and saved me from not enjoying the main characters! Both of them have such different personalities and interests but are able to get along just fine. Sure, they got into disagreements every once in awhile (*cough* okay so maybe it was more than once in awhile...) but they always got through them so maturely and that is one of the reasons why I love their friendship.
I really enjoyed the plot and how much fun it was to read. I appreciate the fact that it didn't take place in one small city but also had a mix of different colleges. Reagan and Vic had such great adventures while they were visiting colleges and I had a such a fun time reading about that because not only were they great adventures, but I also got to learn more about Reagan and Vic. All the fun was definitely contrasted with the normal life they had in Charytan, which sounds like a place I would not wait to get out of. Sure, it's a pretty cute town but absolutely nothing went on there. If you were to put me in a while book in that town and not have drama in it, I would probably fall asleep, which is why I really appreciate the college visits and really getting out of& Charytan. The ending was a tiny bit surprising for me. It was really sweet, wrapped up the book very nicely, and really really showed how much these characters had grown. Their intentions had completely changed and at the point I could see that there was no doubt both characters had developed beautifully.
And one more thing I must mention before ending this review: I loved the diversity that went on with this book, race wise. Vic is Mexican and two characters come in and they are Indian and Chinese. Definitely not a huge ton of different races going on in this book but the fact that there was more color and diversity in Just Visiting let me enjoy the book a bit more.
I gave this book 4.5 stars because I really enjoyed it with it's awesome characters and fun plot but the characters did bug me a bit in the beginning.
Reagan and Victoria(Or “Vic”, as she normally goes by), are friends who set out on a trip of college visits across the state of Kansas. While these visits are not really the point of the story, they move the plot along organically and I loved how much the book was focused on them. It’s really rare to see a YA book so focused on this period of time, right at the tip of almost getting the chance to do something new but not quite there yet. There is a LOT of realistic talk and worrying about the future from both Reagan and Victoria, but despite their fast friendship, they don’t really talk about it. . . at least, not at first.
Reagan and Vic’s friendship is like a breath of fresh air in YA. It’s REAL and true, but it’s not sunshine and butterflies. It offers sometimes different between the usual dichotomy of freenemies or all-encompassing friendships. Reagan and Vic care about each other, but they haven’t really been friends *that* long and in many ways, they still don’t know how to relate and support each other. They try, but sometimes they fail. As Vic says in the book, they “know” each other. . . but often, they don’t “know” each other at all. It’s such an honest look at how awkward friendships–even between best friends–can be and how sometimes it feels like you’re fumbling along in that friendship hoping you stumble upon the right combination. I really loved how Just Visiting highlighted how much work friendship can be.
Beyond that, there’s a lot of serious topics touched upon in Just Visiting. Both Reagan and Vic realize early on that what they thought they wanted might not be what they want in the end. Vic slowly realizes that maybe the community college in the town she’s yearning to get away from could be a good stepping stone, and Reagan starts to realize that she’s still letting things in her past hold her back. All those conflicting emotions are portrayed so earnestly, which really made me feel for both Vic and Reagan.
Just Visiting really does portray small town life in a way that feels rather true to life, though I did have to suspend my disbelief at one thing: the community college. The way Charytan was portrayed was that it was this tiny, tiny town where everyone knew each other. . . which made me wonder how there was such a robust community college that could have employed both of Vic’s parents and have a fashion design program. But I don’t know the statistics of how large a town generally is to have a community college(The nearest community college to my small town is 45 minutes away, but that’s just *my* town, clearly not the situation for every small town), so it’s definitely possible. It just surprised me.
That being said, I did really enjoy the portrayal of Charytan. Vic and Reagan want to get out, but that doesn’t mean everyone does. Vic strikes up a friendship with a guy who’s going to community college while working at the diner and is happy with it, which influences her changing perspective. Vic’s family is also really great. Her parents are supportive of her passions and while there’s not a whole lot of page time dedicated to her family, the support and close-knit relationship is palpable. I loved the inclusion of sign language, as Vic’s mom is deaf–it’s woven into the story so naturally, but also made clear.
Reagan’s family, on the other hand, is the polar opposite. For the most part, Reagan has to fend for herself. She has to save up all her money from working at the diner to just be able to go on the college visits. The money issues were never swept under the rug and because of that, it really rang true. It’s mentioned that Reagan has to scrimp and save just to buy new clothes, and she has trouble with her assignments when they have to be typed, as she doesn’t have a computer and can’t always get to the library(on account of her job).
As I’ve come to expect, Just Visiting contains frank discussions when it comes to the issues that teens actually faced. One scene, which I’ll always remember, has Vic and Reagan traveling hours just to get the morning after-pill. They basically have to travel all day to obtain it, which is by no means an unusual situation in the real world. It’s the kind of stark realism that unfortunately feels rare in YA. Beyond that, there’s also the issue of just trying to figure your life out, which can make anyone’s head spin at any age.
There were lots of excellent parts of Just Visiting, but the real strength of this book lies at the core of Reagan and Vic’s friendship, which is explored in-depth without glossing over the messiness and mistakes that friendship can often bring.
Reagan and Vic couldn't be more different. Reagan, who has a pretty horrific family and home situation, spends most of her time at Vic's loving home where she gets nice conversation, a warm shower, and peace and quiet. Reagan's trailer park home would be fine IF she had electricity... and parents that gave a darn about her. The parental involvement in this book are shown at two extremes: one set totally absent, the other with a very close and personal relationship with their daughter.
Okay... so you're probably thinking this story is full of cliches. And at first, I thought that was going to be the case. Let's face it, the first few chapters weren't exactly screaming "unique and original". But the good news is that the good definitely outweighed the bad in this case. And though it was rather cliche, there was so much going for it that I was able to completely accept that and move on with the story.
Reagan may be our stereotypical YA character, but Vic was her own form of creative and quirky. I loved how she had a wonderful sense of style all her own, that she had dreams of being a clothing designer to share those visions with the world. But it gets better... her parents were actually interested in her life!! Yes, that's right... we have present parents here, people!! *cheers from the crowd* Yup, that's right. A mother who was very much a mother, yet also trusting and affectionate enough that Vic actually wanted to confide in her. Her mother and father actually worked together, which we rarely see in YA, and her entire family dynamic was pretty admirable. I also appreciated the fact that Vic's mother was deaf, so ASL was used throughout the story... yet this fact never became a crutch to further the story along, it just WAS. Gotta love it!
More good stuff, you ask? Well, get ready because there is, in fact, more! I adored the friendship between Vic and Reagan. They had ups, downs, and all the in-betweens of a typical friendship, with none of the hateful mean-girl fights we read about far too often. They really were the epitome of good friends through thick and thin. Both had secrets, past experiences that were holding them back, and a look at the future that was filled with confusion. They didn't always see eye-to-eye on boys, clothing, and even college selection... but through thick and thin, they stuck together. Yay for a positive friendship!!!
Still looking for more reasons to read this story? (Seriously?! You're not convinced yet?!?) The boys were totes adorbs!! I couldn't even handle how adorably awkward and out of place Dev was at times, it made my heart just melt for him. He was the perfect match for Reagan to bring her out of her shell and get her to live a little! And Vic's boy interests... I don't want to give anything away, so let's just say there were a few, some more involved than others, and I enjoyed how different they were and how they brought out Vic's uniqueness throughout the story.
Lastly, I LOVE that this story was told through alternating points of view of these two best friends, NOT a girl and a boy! That's right... no romantic flipping of POVs here. Nope. Just besties at their finest!! Having the two very different perspectives was so enlightening when it came to getting to know these girls. It couldn't haven't been done better.
So to wrap up:
Amazing Friendships ✓
Adorable Book Boyfriends ✓
ROAD TRIPS! ✓
Involved and Successfully-Parenting Parents ✓
Humorous and Fun-tastic Banter ✓
Just Visiting was such a fun and entertaining story. If you're looking for something a little different, this is definitely one to check out.
(Thanks to Dahlia Adler for the review copy!)
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