Synopsis: Anna’s life has just started to fall into place. It’s her senior year, she has the best friend in the world and her cute co-worker has just started to notice her. Trust her newly rich Father to come along and ruin everything! He’s somehow managed to wrangle her a place at an exclusive boarding school in Paris. So au revoir to the life she knew and loved!
Review: I’d heard a lot of hype about this book, but had been put off by an awful cover (I know, you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but the US cover for this book is so tacky) and an even worse title. In the end I had to pick it up and see for myself. The idea of an all American, exclusive boarding school smack dab in the middle of Paris is faintly ridiculous and the book does nothing to quell this notion. Nonetheless, I tried to overlook this and focus on the characters and the story.
“I mean, really. Who sends their kid to boarding school? It’s so Hogwarts. Only mine doesn’t have cute boy wizards or magic candy or flying lessons.”
There was a lot of potential in this book, but unfortunately, everything seems to fall right at Anna’s feet. She is adopted into a close-knit group of friends on her very first day at school. Though she claims to be afraid to explore the city on her own, this is never properly explored and she quickly swings from never leaving the school to freely roaming Paris without anxiety. This lack of real struggle combined with a naivety bordering on stupidity, mean Anna is not a very likeable protagonist.
“School of America in Paris” he explains. “SOAP”.
Nice. My father sent me here to be cleansed.”
This book read a lot like a mini soap opera. The constant will they, won’t they of Anna and St Clair’s budding romance was downright annoying. Sure this book can’t be accused of insta-love, but I found the character of St Clair mildly repulsive. He doesn’t have the guts to break up with his girlfriend even though he’s clearly interested in someone else. He’s also weak willed, fickle and practically a walking cliché. Honestly, there isn’t anything I despise more than a British character written by an American.
The irony of this book is that Anna regards her Father’s cheesy novels with such disdain, but she’s living in one. This book is how I imagine Nicholas Sparks would write YA. I can see how the romanticism of the setting (and the occasional name drop of a famous sight in Paris) may have won over many a reader, but this is a poor story that just happens to be set in a magical city. It was just as I feared, judge this book by it’s cover. Unimaginative, mildly irritating and not even close to realistic. Don’t believe the hype.