I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina ForestI Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest
on June 4, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
AmazonThe Book Depository

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.

Great debuts make me so happy. Especially when they have fabulous covers, because it makes me hope people will discover the book and read it. Let’s be real: we’re all at least a little bit shallow. I Wanna Be Where You Are has both, and it made me smile pretty much the whole way through; I only stopped smiling a couple times because it’s not quite a hundred percent fluffy. Kristina Forest’s debut is about family, preparing for your future, working toward your dreams, and the importance of communication. And, of course, there’s an adorable romance too.

Contemporary novels are often very hit or miss with me, because most of them are very much focused on the main character’s voice. Most of the time, I know right away whether I’m going to love or hate them, and I had a good feeling about this book in the very first chapter. Chloe’s voice immediately felt relatable and real in that way that’s really impossible to describe to anyone who doesn’t connect that with fictional characters. I could not put this book down until I finished it, and that’s just the best feeling.

The plot consists of Chloe breaking out of her carefully ordered bubble of a life in order to audition for her dream ballet conservatory, which she hopes to attend the next year in New York City. Her plans don’t go quite as she’d hoped, and she ends up on an impromptu road trip with her former friend/current nemesis Eli from across the street and his dog Geezer. This set-up could not be more me if it tried, unless someone was genderbending and also they had to fake-out makeout for some reason. To be clear, this does not happen.

The romance is pretty central to the story, but right alongside that, I Wanna Be Where You Are is very focused on Chloe’s relationship with her mother and, to a lesser degree, Eli’s relationships with his parents. Chloe’s mom is overprotective and, though Chloe’s the incredibly chill, rule-following, smart, talented, hard-working daughter most parents would dream of, Chloe’s hit the point where she can’t take it anymore. She asked to audition for the conservatory in NYC, and her mom turned her down, insisting that she will not let her daughter live in New York because it’s too dangerous.

Out of desperation, Chloe hatches a devious plan and lies to her mom for the first time ever. While her mom goes on a rare vacation for a week, Chloe will go to the auditions in Washington D.C., even though driving on the highway terrifies her. She hates lying to her mom, but she hates giving up her dream more. Eli catches her as she’s about to leave and blackmails her (let me come or I’ll tell your mom what you’re doing) into letting him and his dog catch a ride to D.C.

Chloe and Eli have an excellent second chance romance/hate to love slow burn, and I was so into it, despite the fact that Eli smokes, which is gross. They argue and banter, and it’s adorable, but as the book progresses, they genuinely get each other in a way that makes them feel like they really have a shot. Both of them are having to risk parental displeasure to pursue their dream (art school rather than law school for Eli and ballet conservatory instead of college for Chloe). They also both have significant parental issues, which really helps them understand what the other is going through. There’s a scene near the end where Chloe’s able to work through an issue with Eli because she truly gets where he’s coming from when he does something stupid.

Chloe’s character arc is fantastic, and Eli’s is pretty darn good too. It’s nice to read a character like Chloe sometimes, someone who isn’t flashy and can seem like a pushover, introverted and shy. Over the course of the book, she learns how to stand up more for herself, both with others and with herself, because lbr we’re generally hardest on ourselves. The ending’s excellent, a bit open-ended but in a way that makes you feel like there’s nothing but possibility ahead, not matter what happens.

I loved Kristina Forest’s debut I Wanna Be Where You Are, and I expect such amazing things from her in the future. Make sure not to miss this one if you enjoy cute YA contemporary romances!

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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