Review: Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler
Author: Dahlia Adler
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Publication Date: November 17, 2015
Format/Source: eARC/From the author
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. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)
So Many Thoughts…
Okay, guys, I have so many things to say about Just Visiting! First of all, I really, really enjoyed it. Second of all, I have a new book boyfriend! Dev (“Dave”) Shah is totally my new book boyfriend. He is a sweet, nerdy guy who will totally hold your hair while you throw up in the most embarrassing way. Third, yay for BFF books! Fourth, I love how Adler slowly revealed more about both of the main characters’ personalities. Because in the beginning, I really liked Reagan but didn’t love Vic. Reagan seemed more like my kind of girl, and Vic seemed kind of more shallow, I guess. But then as the book went on, you realize how fierce of a friend Vic is, and she actually became my favorite of the two girls.
Also as the book went on, you learn more about Reagan’s flaws. Which leads me to my fifth point I want to address, which is actually my only real issue with the book. [NOTE: I’m about to get up on my soap box. You have been warned.] Reagan comes from a poor family, and she lives with her parents in a trailer park. And unfortunately, her family and the comments that Reagan makes about her mom and other people in the trailer park are huge stereotypes that only perpetuate the idea that poor people are lazy slobs who feel “entitled” (I hate that word these days) to “handouts” (another word I hate). Sure, there are people who milk the system. There are people like Reagan’s mother, who spend their money on satellite TV instead of electricity or whatever, but this is a huge stereotype.
I understand that for the character of Reagan, a huge driving force for her was getting out of the town and situation she was in. She wanted to escape the hardship, she wanted to “pull herself up by her bootstraps” (another term I really don’t like–quotes are mine). And I understand that her mother plays this character who really is neglectful and it makes Reagan become someone who has to do everything for herself. Okay, I get that. But does her mother have to be poor, neglectful, AND a stereotypical poor person who lives beyond her means? And to add to this, Reagan is constantly looking down on not only her mother, but other people in the trailer park and in her town, basically spouting off about what they should be doing with their time and money. I’m sorry, but I have such a problem with this. Plenty of people who aren’t considered poor live above their means, and are in debt, yet we don’t tell them what to spend their money on.
And the idea of poor people just being lazy and living off welfare is really just so false. First of all, about half of people on Medicaid are children (source). And secondly, many forms of assistance require recipients to work a certain number of hours per week, and many people work full-time or more than one job (source). I think that these are all probably things that Adler knows about, and I’m not saying that she disagrees (or agrees) with me, because obviously authors are not their characters, and vice versa. But Reagan held these very false biases toward poor people, and she was never admonished for these beliefs. I really wish that at some point she would have realized that yes, her mom might be like this, but not all poor people are.
Okay, phew. I’m off my soap box now. I just had to bring that point up because it’s something that I feel strongly about, but I still want to emphasize that I really, really enjoyed this book. I loved the friendship between Reagan and Vic, I totally ship Reagan & Dev, and I loved all the diversity within this book. (Which is possibly the reason I got so upset about Reagan’s biases towards poor people, because I felt like they weren’t getting fair representation within a book that is very much about being diverse and inclusive.)
Adler gets some of my Bonus Points for the following reasons:
- Harry Potter references = 50,000 points
- X-Men reference (and the fact that Rogue is Dev’s nickname for Reagan) = 15,000 points
- Jurassic Park reference = 15,000 points
- The character of Dev = 1,000,000 points
Kate Midnight Book GirlNovember 14, 2015 at 2:30 pm
I do want to read this (and I'm a sucker for nerdy book boyfriends!)!
I thought your point about the stereotypes is a valid one. It would have been okay if her mother had been lazy and shallow and a leech on society- but temper that with a hard working neighbors who are still poor despite their effort, or talk about how some people with illness (physical or mental) who literally can't work even though they would love too, struggling to make ends meet in impossible circumstances. I