book review · books · shanti

Just Visiting: the friendship story you need

I was feeling sort of book slumpy last week (mostly because I had been separated from all the physical books I wanted to read (by airline baggage limits and four hundred kilometres, can you believe?), and checked out a lot of books from the library to . Just Visiting finally got me back into reading. The story is as filled with sunlight as the cover promises. Anyway, I loved the depiction of strong friendship and the complex exploration of what it means to leave home for education.

25223115Reagan 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. (from goodreads)

I just read a book about friendship (The Friendship Cure, if you’re interested) and it was good, and this is the story side of that. I find that a lot of friendships in YA novels are strong and fun, but they don’t have much more depth than that. One fight will ruin everything. Sass is subsituted for substance (real proud of that alliteration, btw). Reagan and Victoria’s friendship wasn’t like that at all. They were friends–but being best friends doesn’t mean that you’ll know everything about someone, and they both kept secrets. They were there for each other through thick and thin–but that didn’t mean that they didn’ have their own resentments and different goals. They were not copies of each other. They didn’t understand each other. In short, their friendship was one that was evolving, as all friendships do. I loved that. Adler has put so much nuance into this friendship, and it was one of the best ones I’ve read in YA, and that makes me impossibly glad. (the romances/ boys were good and well written too. even Jamie–I mean, JAMIE! the name should say it all–gets a little spiel about being chinese, jewish, and adopted. That was cool. And I love it when there are Indian love interests, though I have to say that the two I’ve read were both called Dev and tbh all the guys I know called Dev have been horribly suave but no matter, I don’t bring my personal baggage to the books I read, no siree)
There are some really important ‘issues’ in this book. Reagan is poor, poor in a blatant way that is rarely seen in YA. And for people like me who learn aout the US alsmot entirely through reading, it’s good to see that not everyone lives in the suburbs, ya know! Anyway, Reagan’s poverty is very explicit, and it makes her angry, and she has to do so much. She needs to escape, and that makes her unable to see some of the good things around her. But over the course of the novel, this drive becomes more complex: it’s not just escape, it’s escape to the right place. And I liked that a lot. Vic has also faced a lot of racism, and never really felt at home in the small town that she lives in. But she’s also suddenly realising that she hasn’t been very appreciative of the people around her. Both girls have a lot to learn, and places to leave–but maybe more importantly, they’re learning that there are places and people they can return to. What a lovely theme! As someone who has just left a place that maybe I didn’t appreciate and gone away for university (I refuse to call it college, okay) I appreciated that a lot.
The conclusion to this book was not what I expected, but ultimately I reckon it was the right choice for the characters and the story. This is a sweet story, and it is all sunshine. At points, it looked like late afternoon sunshine: resigned, with brisk angry shadows. But really, it is early morning sunlight, promising all sorts of days ahead. You just have to read to find out.

have you read this book? and what is your favourite story about new beginnings? tell me in the comments!

5 thoughts on “Just Visiting: the friendship story you need

  1. I really appreciate how the friendship is included in the blurb.

    A book I like that features new beginnings is Front Lines by Michael Grant. It’s a really good historical fiction.

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  2. What a lovely review! I’ll be adding this to my TBR. Honestly your last few lines: “This is a sweet story, and it is all sunshine. At points, it looked like late afternoon sunshine: resigned, with brisk angry shadows. But really, it is early morning sunlight, promising all sorts of days ahead. You just have to read to find out.” Beautiful ❤

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  3. Wonderful review, Shanti! I am so, so happy you enjoyed this book so much – I read it a little while ago and really liked it. Like you perfectly said, it talks about friendship, but it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, it’s complex, they don’t know everything about each other, they keep secrets, they’re flawed… everything about their relationship and the characters felt unique and realistic to me, which is part of the reason why I enjoyed this book so much 🙂

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  4. I’ve never even heard of this book but it sounds so good!! I really like books that really truly explore friendship and don’t just make it all cute-and-fun-and then smack a dramatic fallout at the end. I like mooore than that, depth! Explorations! So this seems to tick all the boxes?! I’ll definitely need to check it out on GR! (Also it’s nice to see YA characters who aren’t mega rich.😂)

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