I wanna be where you are

Kristina Forest

Book - 2019

"When Chloe Pierce's mom forbids her to apply for a spot at the dance conservatory of her dreams, she devises a secret plan to drive two hundred miles to the nearest audition. But Chloe hits her first speed bump when her annoying neighbor Eli insists upon hitching a ride, threatening to tell Chloe's mom if she leaves him and his smelly dog, Geezer, behind. So now Chloe's chasing her ballet dreams down the east coast--two unwanted (but kinda cute) passengers in her car, butterflies in her stomach, and a really dope playlist on repeat. Filled with roadside hijinks, heart-stirring romance, and a few broken rules, I Wanna Be Where You Are is a YA debut perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Sandhya Menon."--

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Location Call Number   Status
Young Adult Area YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Forest Kristina Checked In
Romance fiction
Road fiction
New York : Roaring Brook Press 2019.
Main Author
Kristina Forest (author)
First edition
Physical Description
266 pages ; 22 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by New York Times Review

EMMA SAYLOR PAYNE, the protagonist of Sarah Dessen's the rest of the story (Balzer + Bray, 448 pp., $19.99; ages 13 and up), is a girl of two first names, and of two lives: the one she lived with her mom, Waverly, an addict who died of an overdose when Emma was 12, and the one that came after. At 17, Emma has largely been shielded from her mom's past by her dad and grandmother, but she can't help remembering the stories Waverly used to tell about the big lake with the cold, clear water where she grew up. In the summer, the stars were bright and, as her mom told it, "everything was going to be O.K." Emma might never have gone back to the lake herself except that her summer plans went awry, and with her dad and his new wife heading off to their honeymoon in Greece, she needed somewhere to stay. Thus heralds her return to a place eerily frozen in her memory, just under the surface but coming back bit by bit. Suddenly she's surrounded by relatives she hasn't seen in years but who look just like her, not to mention the best friend she had as a little girl, a boy named Roo who's as grown up as she is, now. They all call her Saylor, which is what her mom used to call her. But that's just the beginning of what Emma - or is it Saylor? - starts to uncover. Of course, the deepest mystery of all, and the most important thing to discover, is about herself. There's no magic that lets us actually live in books yet, but plunging into the cold, clear waters of Dessen's slowly winding summer-spell, a tale of family lost and found, is pretty darn close. Lovers who surmount the odds have always been intense emotional fodder, but rarely have we seen a story like Meredith RUSSO'S BIRTHDAY (Flatiron, 336 pp., $18.99; ages 14 and up). Morgan and Eric have been best friends since, basically, the day they were born at the same hospital during a freak September blizzard in their Tennessee hometown. They've celebrated every birthday together since then, through the death of Morgan's mom, through Eric's dive into football, a strategic move to please his abusive father. But there's a secret Morgan is terrified to reveal to anyone, most of all the person he cares about the most: He feels as if he should have been a girl, and being in the wrong body is very nearly killing him. Russo is herself trans, and she brings her whole heart to a story laced with pain that, in the end, lifts with hope. The "birthday" structure could feel like a gimmick - she puts us in Eric's and Morgan's bodies, alternating perspectives, for each celebration from ages 13 to 18 - but it works thanks to her characters, especially Morgan, who is true and raw, haunting and undeniable. One of the great wonders of Y. A. fiction is its power to create new narratives that replace fear and hatred with empathy and acceptance, and to show young people a path for the future that's better than what we've seen. Russo's narrative expression of the need to live one's truth, and the option of choosing love through it all, is a valuable reminder of what really matters. "HERE'S SOMETHING YOU should know about me: I'm a terrible daughter," Chloe Pierce announces in the first sentence of Kristina Forest's debut novel, I wanna be WHERE YOU ARE (Roaring Brook, 272 pp., $17.99; ages 12 and up). It'S a great Opener even though it's hardly true - Chloe, "a 17year-old black girl living in the middle of nowhere, New Jersey," is a talented dancer who dreams of becoming a professional ballerina; she's the kind of good kid most parents would kvell over. But Chloe's dad died when she was 3, and her extra-protective mom has forbidden her from auditioning for a New York City dance company, which she has her heart set on. When her mom leaves for a tropical vacation with her boyfriend, Chloe comes up with a plan: Drive herself to the audition in D.C., try out, and get a spot. After that, her mom has to say yes ... right? A road trip is a satisfying catalyst in itself; the story is further sparked by Chloe's irritating neighbor, Eli, who blackmails her into taking him - and his dog, Geezer - along for the ride, and who has his own complicated emotional situation in the works. He's also cute, and they have something of a past, creating a highly shippable will-they-won't-they dynamic. But Forest's novel offers more than romance. This is a bighearted story about being brave enough to go for what you want, even when the rules tell you something different. IN MICHELLE RUIZ KEILS ALL OF US WITH WINGS (Soho Teen, 360 pp., $18.99; ages 16 and up), a 17-year-old named Xochi is adrift in the world. She's never known her Mexican father, and has led a peripatetic existence with her white mother, Gina, and her mother's abusive ex-boyfriend. But when Gina gets out of town, it's Xochi's turn to escape the man who has, in her mother's absence, abused her, too. She finds her way to an enchanting, musical, wild and weird San Francisco, where she meets an equally enchanting 12-year-old, the brilliant-beyondher-years Pallas, the daughter of rock stars who live with a troupe of their polyamorous band members and friends in a Victorian mansion. Xochi gets a job as Pallas's "governess," and moves in with the family. That's only the beginning. During an after-party at the mansion on the vernal equinox, a night charged with all sorts of energies (and a tongue-piercing), Pallas and Xochi accidentally call up two "waterbabies," fey creatures who emerge from a tub on a quest for justice. They're after anyone who's hurt, or who is currently hurting, Xochi. Keil's ambitious debut is jam-packed with twists and depth and froth and function - the world of this novel is real, but magical, too. At times you're even in the perspective of a kind bookstore cat. The lyricism skews heavy at times, and the many side stories and voices make for a slower read, but maybe that's the point: The effect is something of a transcendent journey. Those who keep with it (drug references and sexual trauma as well as a flirtation with an older man make it better for older teenagers or adults) will find a book about embracing everything - people, lifestyles, beliefs, experiences - and, in so doing, finding your own distinct power. The very first scene in Colleen AF Venable's graphic novel KISS NUMBER 8 (First Second, 320 pp., $17.99; ages 13 and up), drawn by Ellen T. Crenshaw, is of a car parked across from a house with a "Bush/ Cheney '04" campaign sign standing in its front yard. It's an important detail to remember. Venable follows an irrepressible main character called Mads, short for Amanda, a Catholic high school student who's almost as interested in finding out why everyone's so obsessed with kissing as she is with hanging out with her beloved dad. That is, until something weird starts happening at home. Her parents are lying to her, and whatever it is, it's big. What Mads ultimately finds out is more worldaltering than she could have imagined, causing her to question her friendships, her family history, her father's beliefs and her own sexual orientation. It's not easy, but it's a necessary process in becoming the person she truly wants to be. In a Q. and A. that follows the novel, Venable notes that 2004, when she started working on the book, "was a crazy rough time to come out as queer." Stereotypes prevailed, trans representation was negligible and gay marriage wasn't legal. Venable's frequently heartbreaking recollection of the abuse and torment that people went through for being "different" - and the fact that it still happens all too frequently - is a powerful reminder of how far we still have to go. JEN DOLL is the author of the young adult novel "Unclaimed Baggage" and the memoir "Save the Date."

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [June 9, 2019]
Review by Booklist Review

Chloe wants to audition for a ballet program in NYC, but her mom shuts it down. Determined to keep chasing her dream, Chloe concocts a plan to drive to an audition while her mom is away on holiday. But, from the beginning, everything goes wrong: Chloe's cute but obnoxious neighbor blackmails his way (and his dog's) along for the ride, and they get into a car crash before she even makes it to the dance hall. The end result, though, is an epic road trip and an adorable, unexpected romance accompanied by a sick playlist. This entire story, told through Chloe's perspective, is about rule-breaking--but not the bad kind. Instead, it's about doing all of the things that are difficult and brave in order to get what you want. This debut is heartfelt, and it'll hit home for people who are insecure, who feel like their bodies don't match their interests, who struggle to understand the feelings of others.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up--Dance is the thing that brings joy to Chloe's life. That's why she's determined to audition for Avery Johnson's conservatory, a place where she will be among dancers of all colors and shapes and where she will fit in more than she does now. Her dark skin doesn't match the lighter tones of the girls in her studio. But her mother will not let her audition, so Chloe schemes to drive from her New Jersey home to Washington, DC, to audition while her mother is on vacation. Chloe's neighbor and former crush, Eli, figures out her plan and invites himself and his dog along for the ride. Chloe's history with Eli is full of ups and downs, and this journey follows the same path. But in sorting out her feelings about Eli, Chloe figures out some important truths about herself as well. Chloe and Eli are both interesting and layered characters, and the plot has enough twists and turns to keep even the most prescient readers guessing. Readers can't help but root for Chloe and Eli to overcome their past and move toward a future together. VERDICT A strong debut, recommended for dancers and wallflowers alike.--Kelly Jo Lasher, Middle Township High School, Cape May Court House, NJ

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

Seventeen-year-old aspiring ballerina Chloe is on a ?mission: to attend an audition being held in Washington, DC, for a spot in her dance idols newly founded conservatory. However, her overprotective mother has said an unequivocal no. Chloe is determined, though, and with her mother away on a week-long cruise, she decides to drive from New Jersey to the audition by herself. She runs into a roadblock when her neighbor and frenemy, Eli, blackmails her into taking him with her (hes trying to get to North Carolina to visit his dad). Already feeling guilty about lying to her mom, anxious about the drive and the upcoming audition, and now with the added aggravation of Eli and his dog, Geezer, along for the ride, Chloe sets out on her journey to realize her dream. Unfortunately, nothing about the trip goes as expected, and the planned few hours away from home turns into several days, giving the two former friends time to work through misunderstandings and misconceptions about each other. This is an engaging, romantic story that explores dealing with relationships, loss, and having the courage to follow your heart, romantically and otherwise. Refreshingly, the novel allows its African American characters to operate in a space that doesnt center the present political and racial climate, while still being culturally affirming. monique harris September/October 2019 p.86(c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Seventeen-year-old Chloe goes on a road trip to audition for a dance conservatory.With her mom away on a cruise, good girl Chloe Pierce resolves to attend auditions in Washington, D.C., for her dream school, a prestigious ballet conservatory, even though her widowed mom said no, wanting her to remain closer to home. Just as she leaves New Jersey, handsome-but-loathed neighbor Eli Greene fake blackmails her into taking himand his dogalong and giving them a ride to the train station in D.C., therefore shortening his trip to see his father in North Carolina. Chloe unhappily complies, her anger toward him eventually explained by an incident from their shared past. The plot meanders along, and so do the pair of black teens (and the dog), eventually reaching the auditions and talking openly about their unresolved history. Chloe's former crush on Eli is resurrected, but thankfully only after he's properly apologized for his misdeeds. The ending feels a bit pat, as does Chloe's assumption that Eli's insistence that everything happens for a reason is indeed the truth. This is a slow, quiet book best suited to contemplative readers who can forgive the uneven pacing and minimal character development. A decent debut from a promising new writerreaders will hope for a stronger sophomore offering. (Fiction. 12-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.