Pick up I Wanna Be Where You Are

I Wanna Be Where You Are is an Own Voices YA novel written by Kristina Forest starring a Black ballerina, a stinky dog, a bad boy, and a road trip! Add it to your Tbr now!

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Seventeen-year-old Chole Peirce has big dreams of making Ballet her career, and the first step is auditioning for her dream conservatory. Chole’s mom forbids Chole from auditioning, but when her mother leaves Chole home alone during spring break, Chole decides to drive two hundred miles to the nearest audition. However, when Chole’s neighbor, Eli, hears about Chole’s plan, he threatens to call her mom unless she allows him and his dog Geezer to hitch a ride. Now Chole must chase her dreams down the east coast with her sworn enemy and his smelly dog.

Me, Chole Pierce, a seventeen-year-old Black girl living in the middle of nowhere, New Jersey, could spend all of senior year in New York City, learning from Avery Johnson, the youngest Black dancer to start his own ballet company, and now his own conservatory.”

Forest 20


I Wanna Be Where You Are is fantastically written, plus the soundtrack included at the end of the book is awesome. There was never a dull moment in this story as the main characters were always in some shenanigans.

Chole is a good kid and rarely disobeys her mother. She is the only Black girl in her ballet class, but she dreams of dancing with Avery Johnson’s all Black conservatory. However, when her mother forbids her from auditioning, she has no choice but to do it anyways. I admire that Chole is one to chase her dreams.

In contrast to Chole, we have Eli, her hot bad boy-next-door neighbor. Eli does what he wants most of the time, but under that rebel boy exterior, he has a big heart. Eli wants to go to art school in San Francisco but doesn’t want to tell his father and break his heart, so he was just going to go along and act as if he would pursue a law degree.

Both characters are opposite each other and Chole hates Eli after he left her waiting on her porch during homecoming. They shouldn’t be able to bring out the best in each other, but they do!

“He grins from ear to ear, flashing his white teeth. I think of the Big Bad Wolf again. Eli always smiles like he knows something that you don’t.” 

Forest 57

Additionally, to these two dorks, Forrest also takes care to craft a strained relationship between Chole and her mother. After losing her husband, Chole’s mother becomes extra protective of Chole and keeps her daughter close as possible, which is why she objects to Chole moving to New York after high school.

But of course, the two resolve this issue by the end of the book. I just love reading about the bond between parents heal in books. It’s GROWTH.

My only complaint about this book is we learn what transpired between Chole and Eli the night of homecoming late in the story. And we also learn about how Chole’s parents fell in love pretty late. This didn’t take me out of the story but I wish it had been mentioned earlier.

All in all, I give I Wanna be Where you Are a four-star rating. I recommend this book to teens and YA fic lovers and those looking to diversify their shelves.

Until next time keep living in libros,


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