July 11, 2017
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I see London, I see France, I see Sydney’s underpants.
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.
Sarah Mlynowski's novels can be fun, quick, cute reads - like Ten Things We Did - and I See London, I See France is definitely those things. I loved the traveling parts of this novel: the sights, the actual traveling, the food, the other travelers, the hostels. It was great that, while some of the destinations were the more known, even expected ones (London, Paris), there were also several places you might not think about visiting or might not know much about.
I liked that the trip was not just a carefree, forget-about-everything summer vacation for Sydney. While trying to take in the sights and enjoy Europe, she was also worrying about her mother, trying to check in with her sister and manage things at home. I thought that her mother's agoraphobia, how it had affected Syndney's choices since middle school and her struggle to balance being there for her mother and having her own life gave the book ab it of seriousness.
That Sydney also had that going on made her trying to figure things out with Leela (and her ex) feel more substantial. It wasn't just Leela she did not seem able to assert herself with and her actions on the trip make more sense when paired with her life at home. I still don't know if I like Leela or think she was a good friend to Sydney.
It always surprises me when YA books are more NA books, though I don't know why. I See London, I See France was a bit odd in that area. It's tone felt very Young Adult, but the content (the sex, drinking, drugs) was more New Adult. It did definitely fit the characters, their ages (post first year of college) and the location(s) but still felt younger than what was happening.
I See London, I See France is a fun read that will absolutely make you want to go on your own trip around Europe and I hope there is a description for Book 2 soon!