I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Fierce Reads)
Release Date: June 4, 2019
Available Through The Book Depository: I Wanna Be Where You Are
Cover Illustration/Design: Alex Cabal and Cassie Gonzales
Summary: 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.
My Rating: ★★★★☆
My Thoughts: I Wanna Be Where You Are is a sweet YA Romance that follows dedicated ballet dancer Chloe who goes on a road trip to follow her dreams! There’s not only a road trip, but playlists, also a cute enemies-to-lovers romance that turns into something more! Forest has delivered a must-read YA that features a wonderful journey about growth, is filled with a great cast of characters and a page-turning story!
I’ve had I Wanna Be Where You Are on my TBR for quite a bit and I’m just so happy to have finally read Forest’s lovely debut! Its such a wholesome story and I have been meaning to pick up more YA Contemporaries by Black authors. It balances fun, humor, and more serious topics so perfectly, overall this is just a very cute YA Rom-Com everyone should read. After turning the final page on Chloe and Eli’s story I know I’ll have to pick up Now That I’ve Found You (her newest release) ASAP, she’s become one of my new favorite authors.
Chloe Pierce, a dedicated ballet dancer, dreams of attending the prestigious Avery Johnson Academy (named after one of her idols/inspirations) and an audition is right around the corner. The only problem is, her mother would never let her attend.
Ever since Chloe’s father died when she was young, her mother has become very protective and yet, Chloe knows she can’t let this chance slip away. Now she’s joined by her neighbor Eli who she can’t stand and his dog Geezer on a road trip to not only get to the audition, but also getting Eli to his father’s house for an important university visit.
Luckily the perfect opportunity arises when Chloe’s mom and boyfriend Jean-Marc are headed on a quick spring vacation! But, along the way some unfortunate obstacles get in the way of Chloe’s first audition in DC, now she’s traveling cross-country from Washington D.C. to Raleigh and Atlanta. She’s even reconnecting with her childhood friend Eli and they are learning much more about each other than they expect!
Forest brilliantly sets up the mystery surrounding Chloe and Eli’s past, it leaves you wanting to know more about how they went their separate ways. They grew up together, but there’s a rift between them still. It’s wonderful getting to see them not only reconnect, but work out their past hurt.
Chloe’s journey throughout the book was beautiful to read and Forest delves into the obstacles (both internal and external) that Chloe faces as she learns to not only navigate her freedom, but also her choices! Same goes for Eli as we learn he’s a very talented artist and finds the courage to be honest with his parents about his dreams. At its heat, this novel explores the reach and power of art, from Chloe’s ballet to Eli’s sketches, Forest delves into why these passions mean so much to each of them. I loved hearing about both of their journeys as to why they want to continue pursuing art!!
Each moment of this road trip teaches them not only more about themselves, but each other as they rekindle their past friendships and become much more closer, realizing they may have newfound feelings for each other. There’s all these little pieces they are learning to understand and appreciate about one another, which makes the development so wholesome and adorable!
Forest splendidly delivers such driven protagonists who are inspired to follow their dreams, no matter the cost! Its the kind of story that leaves you feeling so connected with the main character and wholly invested at every moment, knowing it’ll be a joyful experience, your eager to follow them every step of the way!
If you are a fan of road trips, this is a perfect read! Although it is set during Spring Break, it reads like a perfect summer contemporary!
Through a first-person POV, Chloe’s voice instantly pulls you into the story. The deep emotion, passion, enthusiasm, and mystery are given such meaningful depth through Chloe in the entirety of the book. You sense her anxieties, melancholy, but above all its Black joy at its heart.
Forest uses flashbacks and the past to layer in many different meaningful messages and ideas, from fate even exploring philosophy, that gives an explanation for the things that comes our way or that happens throughout our lives! For example, Chloe and Eli’s childhood friend Trey moving away allowed for Chloe to meet Reina (her best friend). Chloe even questions whether things would have turned out differently for her and her ballet had it not been for all the little hurdles along the way.
Featuring a majority Black cast, also Dominican rep (Reina), this novel is a wonderful YA Contemporary about celebrating Black joy, love, and its an absolute-page turner.
My only gripe is that there were moments early on I could predict what would happen and then it was pretty easy for me to see how major points of the plot would play out. Other than that although it just felt like a 4-star read, I absolutely adored it!!
I Wanna Be Where You Are is the kind of heartwarming contemporary that captivates you from the very first page! So full of joy, a splendid cast of characters, a page-turning story, even a journey about independence, Forest’s debut navigates all that and so much more! This YA Contemporary all about Black love and joy, will leave you delighted to see what Forest writes next!
In today’s review I’ll also be shouting out a fellow blogger review! 📚🎉
I recommend WOC Read’s Review!! This review beautifully delves into how ballet is explored in the novel and perfectly sums up what you can expect in the story! This quote also stuck out to me when reading it“Chloe and Eli’s relationship is such a sweet portrayal of black teens that we don’t often see.”