This is another romance, kind of, but also another young-adult novel. Emma read this one earlier this year and really loved it, but I only got around to picking it up now. It’s a well-written and enjoyable romance about two high-school seniors who meet at a boarding school for American kids in Paris. Anna is a film buff, a little bit shy and not really excited about being in Paris (it was her dad’s decision to send her — and by the way the descriptions of her bestselling-author dad who got rich by writing novels about people who fall in love and then get deadly illnesses are hilarious for any reader who recognizes the target of the parody). Etienne St. Clair has a French father, an American mother and has grown up in London, and of course Anna falls for him just as almost every girl does. The story unfolds along with the school year as Anna’s friendship with Etienne develops … and almost blossoms into romance. Romance is stalled by the fact that Etienne still has a girlfriend. But the really interesting thing here is not the fairly predictable storyline but the character development and great use of young-American-in-Paris as a setting for a sweet tale of young love.
Again a caution to parents of younger teens reading this novel: the boarding school Anna and her friends attend is co-ed, extremely poorly supervised, and in a city where high school seniors are legally able to drink, so there are some “mature” hijinks, although Etienne and Anna’s relationship is pretty much PG-rated, and Anna’s one attempt at a drunken party ends badly and leaves her a little wiser. So it’s not exactly that the novel promotes teenage sex and drinking, but certainly acknowledges they exist (the characters are, after all, all 17 or 18 years old, but the writing is likely to appeal to kids more the age of my daughter, 13). I’m a big fan of reading what your kids are reading and discussing it with them, and if you do that in this case, you’ll get to enjoy a fun, sweet romance with Paris as a backdrop (Emma wishes she’d read the novel before we went to Paris as there are many landmarks she’d like to have visited because of their use in the book. Oh dear, guess we’ll just have to go back to Paris sometime …)