I liked it. The only complaint I have is that Anna does a lot of thinking, and often she says what she thinking. But I don’t like how often I see ‘I said as much’ or ‘and I say it.’ Things like that. Those things should have been in quotation marks or something. Or people should just be able to read her mind to save time.
I liked the imperfections of the main characters. Etienne had few imperfections, but they were emphasized enough to make him a believable character. The crooked bottom teeth, the resistance to change, the fear of heights. Anna herself had some. The gap in her front teeth, her chronic inability to speak French, etc….There are actually a lot of things that she does that I disagree with, or wouldn’t have done in her place. Like standing up for herself. She does this a little, but not nearly enough. She only really fought back once, and then wouldn’t defend herself to the principal to get less of a punishment. And she also got mad at the wrong people too often. Like her friends.
But a lot of this book did hit home. I know the magic of travel. I know the magic of France. I know how it can bring out these sort of relationships- not just romance, but strong friendships. Attachments to people. Like when Anna and Etienne were just friends, and they took the plane back to the States together. I know how much better and more exciting it is to have someone to share the experience of travel with besides your family. Someone your own age, someone as inexperienced as you. There were a lot of things like that that Perkins got exactly right. For that reason alone I would treasure this book forever, not only because the connections I have with this book are so recent, but because I know they are always things that will be true. This book isn’t necessarily a love story but a story of relationships. And in a European setting, it just emphasizes them more.
I managed to connect with a lot of her feelings. I just got back from Europe myself (a school trip) and I could understand her feelings perfectly. Like how she began feeling at home in France and going back was hard. The feeling is different if you’re just visiting a few days. The longer you’re there, the more you immerse yourself in the culture, the harder it is to pull yourself away from it. You become part of it in a relatively short amount of time (depending on how familiar you are with it in the first place). For instance since I’ve been studying France for years and I visited once before (before I started studying it), when I went a few weeks ago I felt like I fit right in. I was at home immediately. I wasn’t fluent, but I spoke enough to manage a living, I predict.
I wasn’t entirely happy with the ending. It was a great one for Anna and a few other main characters. But a few of the antagonists didn’t quite get the punishment they deserved. And like I mentioned earlier, that has partly to do with the fact that Anna wasn’t the best at standing up for herself.
I also loved meeting Isla in this book, who seems like she’ll be a fantastic protagonist in the third book. It’s clear how the books in this series will be connected. I liked her minor but actually important role in this book. She was a witness when Anna finally fought back and the only person who was nice to her for a while.
I noticed that towards the second half of the book it started to feel like there was just too much drama going on. I mean sure it’s high school and drama is stereotypically a staple. But it almost got the point where I had to set the book down and continue another day. Almost. It wrapped itself up one way or another and I could continue.
Anna’s relationship with her brother is something worth mentioning as well. While she was gone, her best friend Bridgette baby-sat for him. When she went back to see her family on holiday, he appeared to have become really attached to Bridgette, enough to obstruct his missing Anna. But the minute Anna and Bridgette started fighting, he was back on her side. That’s what true siblings do. I wouldn’t know personally, but all my friends have siblings this loyal. As much as they may fight, they are family. That’s an unbreakable bond.
Wow, I haven’t mentioned Toph at all. He’s the guy Anna almost had a thing with before she left. I guess I just considered him a placeholder the entire time. He wasn’t really real. There was one short second where I thought, hm. Maybe it’s her destiny to realize that Etienne will never leave Ellie (his girlfriend) and she’ll realize her place is back at home with Toph. But that was quickly shattered. I won’t spoil.
First of all, I have been to France twice and taken 3 years of French. The description is accurate and most of the language is, but there were a few things different from what I learned. I don’t think I’m really in a position to say what’s right and what’s wrong, but it was a bit confusing trying to figure it out based on what I knew. Aside from the language, the description of Paris was lovely. I’ve never been to Paris myself (I’m going once or twice next year though) so I can’t contrast it with my memory but from the other places I’ve seen in France (and Europe itself) it seems accurate and it manages to convey the sense of magic that you get when being in a different country.
…Interesting. I’ve noticed that the length of my reviews is pretty proportional to the length of the book.