Books aren’t only made of words. They’re made of voices, unique ones that you can carry around forever after reading the last page. They’re made of themes, important ones, they’re made of things that life is made of, too. Just Visiting is the perfect example of this kind of book. What seems like a light contemporary read, really stuck with me, because of the strong voices, themes, and talent of the author for perfectly portraying a moment in a lot of people’s life that’s complicated and dreaded by all : taking off for college. Or, most commonly called, growing up.
“Reagan Forrester and Victoria Reyes couldn’t be any more different. Reagan lives in a trailer park with both her parents,and all that she dreams about, is to get out of Charytan, Kansas. Victoria just wants to get into a fashion school, to live her dream, preferably in a city where she doesn’t stand out for being Mexican. The one thing they both agree on, is that they need to get out of here, and, together. But will the future really be as bright as they think? As they discover their possibilities for college, they both discover themselves and what they both want out of life… where, and how they want to live it.” What obviously stands out both in the synopsis, and while reading this story, is how strong friendship is, and can be. Nothing is perfect, there are struggles, as there should be in life, too. But both characters have their flaws, their own secrets and find out that they don’t really know each other that well. Just as it happens, in life.
“She grabs the cup—she is physically incapable of throwing out
food and I’ve learned well enough never to do it in front of her—and we head out, back to the
hotel with the horrid wallpaper, back to the old Nissan, back to “that sinking ship” that also
happens to be home.”
What I enjoyed the most in this story, is how diverse the cast of characters is. Reagan comes from a poor family, Victoria is Mexican, her mother is deaf, so they use the American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate together. But that’s not it: Indian, Asian…there’s a bunch of diverse characters, which is honestly so refreshing to read about. Every character in this story has its own background and origins, which made the whole think more interesting to follow.
Told from a dual point of view, we can perfectly make the difference between Reagan and Victoria’s voice in the story. They are both so different, yet their friendship is believable, and well-built, from start to end. If I had a hard time, at first, getting to understand Reagan, her behavior and her motives, as I turned the pages, everything became more clear, more obvious, and I started to feel for her. Victoria, on the other hand, I think I fell in love with her completely, right from the first page. Her personnality, but, most of all, the struggles behind her smile, really got me. Both characters have their own personnalities and their own struggles. When I really got into the story, whoever the narrator was, I could perfectly understand what they were going through. I felt close to those characters, even though I’m not in either of their situation. For me, that’s a winner.
“I still have Vic—will always have Vic—and right now, as we stumble to
the Drunkmobile under the weight of laughter, residual alcohol consumption, and uncomfortable
shoes, I think that really could be enough.”
Just Visiting portrays a strong friendship, an amazing one that we all dream of having, one day. There are fights, secrets, they don’t know each other as well as they think they do. There are ups and downs, but, above everything, there is a deep connexion and understanding of the other. Despite their differences, both Reagan and Victoria are always there for each other, and will always protect each other no matter what. Following their friendship grow as they did, too, really warmed my heart. If I rooted for anything in this book, it really was for those two amazing girls. Of course, I’m not going to lie to you and tell you there aren’t any beautiful boys thrown into this mix, because, of course, there is. Beautiful dreamy-geeky Indian boy, here you are. I really loved the fact that, despite the presence of this relationship in the story, it didn’t overshadow the friendship and the whole point of the book. It brought something more. We see things between Reagan and this boy building up, from the start to the end. Feelings go strong with time, friendship evolve, change. I really loved the fact that he wasn’t perfect, at all. He made some mistakes, and Reagan did, too. As every character in this story. They’re flawed, but they’re oh, so real.
Just Visiting is not only readable because of the diversity and themes that are close to my heart, this book holds a place for every teenagers’ concern at that age. Not only because of the stress of going away to college, but also the stress of growing up, moving out, moving on from friendships, from past lives. There’s a place for sex in this story, too, and I enjoyed the fact that the author included that in her story. It seemed real, and genuine to put that there, and with all the right words and sex-positivity, was really, on point.
This is story about growing-up and moving on, a story that will make you bittersweet about friendships and no matter what how life goes on, if you’ve already experienced this going away then this will feel just like it, and if not, maybe you’ll want to enjoy your friends. And remind yourself that there’s always someplace, and someone you can come home to. Struggles in the friendship, nothing is perfect at all in this story, but that’s what makes it so endearing.
Final rating: 4 drops !
(find out more about my new rating system here)
Infinite thanks and love to Dahlia Adler for sending me a copy of this book to review. This did not in any way affect my opinion on this story.
Are you planning to read Just Visiting? Feel free to share your thoughts in comments!
Dahlia Adler, Just Visiting, Published by Spencer Hill Contemporary, November 17th 2015.
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