PetitMas: I See London, I See France

by - 10:16 AM

I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski 

| ISBN: 978-0062397072 | Pages: 384 |
Publication Date: July 11, 2017 | Source: Library
| Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars |
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. 

I finally started and finished a novel! The only full book I read in November was an assigned reading for my Lifespan Development class so this is pretty exciting. I mostly picked this up because I wanted something light and my sister loves Sarah Mylnowski's Whatever After series so I was curious to see how she targets an older audience. 

I See London, I See France follows Sydney's last minute decision to join her best friend Leela on a four and a half week adventure across Europe. As this is a trip meant to rekindle their friendship after being apart for their first year of college, this novel focuses a lot on their friendship which unfortunately, became the first stumbling block for me.

No matter how hard I try, I could not get myself to like Leela beyond feeling a bit sympathetic for her situation with Matt. Once her ex shows up, the entire trip shifts its focus from friendship to romance to one-upping Matt when things don't work out. The way that Leela makes Sydney constantly change the travel plans to match her mood swings and doesn't full comprehend all the internal stress that Sydney has to deal with really just portrays her in a very selfish light which I could not get on board with.

“A friendship can't survive on childhood memories alone. We have to create new experiences, or the friendship will shrivel up.” 

In addition to the plans, once the guys appear at the baggage claim, the entire novel shifts to focus on them. Don't get me wrong, the spontaneous changes to their itinerary made for a fun adventure as they got to explore places that they definitely would not have (looking at you Amsterdam.) While I did find the relationship between Sydney and Jackson really sweet despite Jackson's playboy attitude, the progression of their summer romance just drew the focus away from the friendship aspect of the trip.

On a completely different note, I wanted to quickly touch on how this novel addresses mental illness. Sydney's mother is diagnosed with agoraphobia and she becomes Sydney's "little secret" that constantly plagues her thoughts. While I really admired the dedication that Sydney had towards her family, I wished that we could have gotten more than just snippets of Sydney's life as the caretaker and her constant frustration with her sister.

I apologize if this review seems a bit more negative as I did still enjoy this novel despite all the little things I seem to nitpick at. I have in my notes to address to abrupt ending, but that was before I realized this was a series. I don't think the sequel follows the same characters but I would like to see some more permanent closure to this story than what we got. Regardless, this was a fun novel that kept my interest throughout and gave me an adventure in Europe that was a nice break from reality.

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