I See London, I See France

After a stressful adolescence caring for her younger sister and agoraphobic mother, Sydney is ready to experience a classic rite of passage away from home: backpacking Europe with her best friend, Leela. She's got just enough money, a copy of Travel Europe and a plan--a plan that unravels when they board their flight and see Leela's ex, Matt, on their plane. Matt and his hot friend Jackson cause itinerary changes, at first by attraction, and then by post-breakup repulsion. As the girls skip to Amsterdam, Paris and beyond, both also skip between fearless adventuring and emotional meltdown, and Sydney finds it harder to keep Leela (plus her family at home) together in the way she always has.

Louise Rennison was an early travel inspiration for Sydney and Leela, and Sarah Mlynowski (Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have)) brings Rennison's delightfully madcap energy to her story's older characters. As a result, throughout breakups, panic attacks and other emergencies, the plot never loses its buoyancy or charm. The book may not work for some younger teens--for example, readers who can't already guess what a group of 19-year-olds might get up to in Amsterdam will receive a thorough education about its offerings. But Mlynowski's respect for the complex emotional experiences of late adolescence will make the book especially compelling for older teen and adult readers, reminiscent of the best of Paula Danziger, allowing I See London, I See France to be a poolside read for the ages. --Stephanie Anderson, assistant director for public services, Darien Library (Conn.)

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