Title: I See London, I See France
Series: I See London, I See France, #1
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: July 11th, 2017
Length: 378 pages | 9 hours 31 minutes
Source: Received in the HootLoot Love and London box
Nineteen-year-old Sydney has the perfect summer mapped out. She’s spending the next four and half weeks traveling through Europe with her childhood best friend, Leela. Their plans include Eiffel-Tower selfies, eating cocco gelato, and making out with très hot strangers. Her plans do not include Leela’s cheating ex-boyfriend showing up on the flight to London, falling for the cheating ex-boyfriend’s très hot friend, monitoring her mother’s spiraling mental health via texts, or feeling like the rope in a friendship tug-of-war.
As Sydney zigzags through Amsterdam, Switzerland, Italy, and France, she must learn when to hold on, when to keep moving, and when to jump into the Riviera…wearing only her polka-dot underpants.
Given that my honeymoon is coming up very quickly, I decided to read only books set in the UK during the lead-up to it. I started with this because I needed a palate-cleanser after two excellent but intense fantasy novels (that are both the first in a series). I expected it to be light and fluffy, and hopefully not as vapid as 13 Little Blue Envelopes. I’m happy to report it more than delivered.
I See London, I See France is a sweet novel. The MC and her cohorts are all early college-aged, and they felt like authentic characters. I related to Syd a surprising amount (minus the quirky wit- I’m not that fast with references to YA fiction, although I was pleased we share the same taste in it). Especially in that we’re both enablers, feeling like we have to take care of everyone. Although to be honest, Syd is way braver than I am, around people. And I’d do better on stairs.
The book is rather poignant- Syd’s mom has agoraphobia, and it’s handled realistically. Syd is sympathetic but has taken a caretaker role with her mom, to the detriment of her own social life. She’s also got an old friendship with a friend who is realistically a bit of a hot mess, and a friendship with a cosmopolitan new college friend who is dazzling to the point of otherworldly. There were passages that showed that genuine struggle to maintain and manage friendships- something else I related to deeply. I love that Syd isn’t the “good” character, with all the qualities we the readers should like. She does have some excellent ones (she’s a total Gryffindor, but loves YA lit, and is compassionate) but she also crutches on being needed, without realizing she’s doing so, and she has apparently spent the year not communicating well or being a good friend to Leela. So there was a lot of tension in various areas, and it was so well-paced that I finished it in two days. TWO. I stayed up for hours at night to read this book, which is saying something, because I love my sleep.
And then there’s the romance. It is definitely on the somewhat-unbelievable side (but then, aren’t all romance plots?) in that both of these people are all the right things and neither does something stupid. But the sexual tension between them is delightful, and the romance is very sweet.
In all, this book is a lovely example of contemporary YA romance done right, and I’m so glad I read it. I recommend it for fans of YA, especially contemporary, romance, and both. It’s probably the stick I’ll be holding future YA contemporary romance novels to for many years.