Saturday, May 7, 2016

seriously romantic: one paris summer by denise grover swank

when i read a book like one paris summer by denise grover swank i always have the urge to hop a plane to an exotic locale and fall in love. never mind that i am very happily married. i mean, it's paris. romance capital of the world. definitely on my bucket list of places i want to go. even if the only the only things i remember to say in french are je m'appelle jaques martineaux. je suis pianiste. j'habite à la place de la contrascarpe. (apologies, i just needed to get that out of my system. it happens every time i feel the urge to speak french. blame mlle. alió from my ap french class.)

one paris summer opens with siblings eric and sophie arriving in paris to attend their absent father's sudden wedding to a frenchwoman, eva. this is a family who's relationships are so fractured it is hard to know where to begin repairing it. eva, the future stepmother is written against type, she's a truly lovely person. she's warm and welcoming to her future stepkids. unfortunately she has a daughter, camille, who takes it upon herself to make sophie's life, in particular, a living hell.

so, things are complicated. and then they only get more complicated as dane, eric's friend joins them in paris and we are also introduced to camille's group of friends, which includes two young men named, mathieu and thomas who are interested in sophie in spite of camille's insistence that her friends treat her poorly. from the get-go it's pretty apparent that mathieu and sophie are meant to be together. and their romance is written so sweetly, that you can't help melting every time they are together on the page. yes, there are obstacles, and yes, there is s a huge misunderstanding, but this book is at it's heart a romance and there is a happily ever after. and how you get there is so satisfying. 

what elevates this book though, is that even though it is a romance, it is about so much more than the romance. it's a true coming-of-age story for sophie. she finds an inner core of strength and independence that make her more and more likable as she grows as a character. her relationships with her parents and her brother deepen and experience a rebirth throughout the novel, and it is all handled so nicely even as the characters are put through an emotional wringer. sophie's ability to play the piano, her access to the instrument, her need to play music is also integral to all of this. as she improves as a pianist, she also gains a stronger sense of self. and when she finally allows herself to pursue her dreams, it's a moment that is just about her. and that's a pretty cool thing. 

if you liked anna and the french kiss by stephanie perkins or just one day by gayle forman, you will definitely like this.

**this book is set to release on june 7, 2016. i was able to read an advance reader copy thanks to netgalley/zonderkidz books/blink. i received a copy of the novel in exchange for my honest review. 

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