Beautiful Americans

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Overview

A story of four American teens in Paris? and the scandal that leads one girl to disappear.

This sparkling novel reveals exactly how it feels to be a teen in love, in angst, in a big, gorgeous, unfamiliar city. Fall in love with the elusive model-gorgeous PJ, on the run from a mysterious past. Or Olivia, a hardworking ballerina whose fall from grace-both literal and figurative-lands her in the arms of the wrong boy. Witness the melodrama of jaded but beautiful Alex, whose ...

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Beautiful Americans

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Overview

A story of four American teens in Paris? and the scandal that leads one girl to disappear.

This sparkling novel reveals exactly how it feels to be a teen in love, in angst, in a big, gorgeous, unfamiliar city. Fall in love with the elusive model-gorgeous PJ, on the run from a mysterious past. Or Olivia, a hardworking ballerina whose fall from grace-both literal and figurative-lands her in the arms of the wrong boy. Witness the melodrama of jaded but beautiful Alex, whose seductions will never fill the void left by her father. Finally, let fun-loving Zack warm your heart with his vulnerability and sweet Memphis accent.

On their own for the first time, these kids go wild in Paris. But when PJ disappears, the others must face the lies theyfive told and the secrets theyfive kept in order to help find her.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

First in a projected series, this debut novel sticks to a tried-and-true formula: interwoven first-person narratives trace the hopes and fates, rivalries and secrets of four privileged teenagers. In this case, the privilege has to do with spending a year in Paris as part of a prestigious high school study-abroad program. Enter Alex, a poor-little-rich-girl with a jam-packed designer wardrobe and wanton ways; PJ, a Heidi Klum look-alike on the run from a murky (but unspecified) family history; Olivia, who combines the grueling academics with study at the Paris Opera Ballet School and still finds time to party and fall in love; and good-looking Zach, who uses his reprieve from the Bible-thumpers back in Memphis to come out of the closet-maybe. The Paris setting enters chiefly through clothing (Alex shops at Galeries Lafayette until AmEx cuts her off) and cliché (PJ's host "father," a politician, cheats on his wife, with his wife's knowledge). Genre fans can comfortably anticipate that the virtuous among these characters will be rewarded and the haughty brought low; the second installment will appear in fall 2009. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Dianne Ochiltree
What happens when American teens from different corners of the United States—and vastly different backgrounds—come together for a year of study abroad at the Lycee de Monceau in Paris? Alex, Olivia, Zack, and PJ are drawn together from their first days in the City of Lights. It is a time for love, adventure, and fresh beginnings for the four friends, but each teen discovers that the secrets they thought they left behind have followed them across the Atlantic Ocean. This impedes making their dreams come true and causes the process to be difficult, painful, and even a little dangerous. One of the four friends disappears. Despite the glamour of the setting, this is a slightly predictable teen tale of romantic longing, parental misunderstanding, and social cliques. The constant fashion-brand-name-dropping was a tad distracting. The dialogue was spot-on in its believability and quite clever. The setting, Paris, is painted very vividly and accurately. The characters were interesting and certainly types that teen girls in particular will recognize, but they were not as fully-rounded or sympathetic as they might have been. The plot moved at a slow pace in the first two-thirds and picked up steam as it moved to an ending that felt incomplete in some ways. The cliff-hanger is understandable, as this title is the first in a trilogy about these characters and their sojourn in France. Teens will likely relate to many of these situations even if they have never been to Paris before and will want to read more about Alex, Olivia, Zack, and PJ as soon as the next installment is out. Reviewer: Dianne Ochiltree
School Library Journal

Gr 10 Up

When four American teens become exchange students in Paris, they go wild, partying, drinking, and smoking. The host families have no qualms about any of the goings-on as their behavior is, in some cases, more erratic and disturbing than the students they are hosting. There's not a lot of focus on traditional character development in the book, which is the first in a planned trilogy, but things do wrap up for Olivia, the ballet dancer: she is determined to stay, even though her parents want her help at home. Her change isn't entirely believable, and her parents' blithe acceptance of her decision, after being so opposed to it, is even less so. The stories of Alex, the snarky seductress, and Zach, the handsome gay boy, will be resolved in the sequels, it is assumed, and that troubled PJ, who has run away, will be found. A shining example of tawdry melodrama, the story sometimes borders on farce. Readers looking for glamour, histrionics, and mad, groping sex-need look no further.-Catherine Ensley, Latah County Free Library District, Moscow, ID

Kirkus Reviews
American high-school students head to France to study at a prestigious Parisian prep school. Narrated in turn by three girls and a boy-part traveling-pants sisterhood, part Sex and the City quartet-the plot is long on shopping and socializing, short on depth and nuance; the French are portrayed mostly as party poopers or hypocritical snobs, for instance. Nonetheless, fans of chick lit should enjoy the upscale romantic settings, brand-name fashion, catty observations and generous helpings of sex and partying. The strongest voices belong to Olivia, who longs to dance professionally, and closeted Zack, looking for love. Alex, the ethically challenged power shopper, is too bad to be true. Mysterious PJ carries a family secret, withheld from readers until the end. Because no narrative justification for this secrecy exists apart from building suspense, readers will justifiably feel manipulated. The book doesn't so much end as simply stop, suggesting a possible sequel. Despite the novel's flaws, its debut author displays moments of insight and acute observation that may serve her well in future works. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595142221
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/8/2009
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 8.42 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

Lucy Silag grew up in Iowa and California and graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2005. She has written for many publications, including Salon, Allure, New York Magazine, Real Simple Travel and the Independent on Sunday magazine. She lives in Paris, France.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 18 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 3, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Amber Gibson for TeensReadToo.com

    BEAUTIFUL AMERICANS by Lucy Silag is the story of four very different American teenagers studying abroad for a year in Paris. For PJ, Olivia, Alex and Zack, Paris is a place to run away, reinvent oneself, find love, and discover what it really means to live. Like the Lost Generation of the 1920s, these Americans escape to the City of Lights with the hope that the joie de vivre of the city will rub off on them. <BR/><BR/>PJ is fleeing from an embarrassing family scandal and hoping that she can leave her past behind in Vermont. This year is her chance to bury her secrets and emerge as a whole new person. <BR/><BR/>Olivia comes to Paris to train at a prestigious ballet academy. Her meticulously planned out future hinges on a perfect year, but sometimes life doesn't go according to plan. <BR/><BR/>Alex is a well-coiffed fashionista - thanks to her Manhattan upbringing - looking to find the perfect guy in the most romantic city in the world. However, sometimes even Alex cannot have everything she wants. <BR/><BR/>Zack is from Memphis, where being gay was never socially acceptable. Now that he is free from his conservative background, he has the same goals as Alex - to find a boyfriend and maybe even fall in love. <BR/><BR/>The story is told from alternating perspectives among the four main characters, and Silag achieves a delicate balance between their four individual stories while maintaining a cohesive plot. Four extraordinary stories told in a surprisingly believable manner. Getting to know each character from the perceptions of the others adds a compelling layer of reality to the story, revealing the faults of each character that can only be seen through the eyes of others. <BR/><BR/>This first book in the series leaves readers dangling at Christmastime, halfway through the exchange year, with one member of the quartet running away. For the mysteries and secrets that are not yet revealed, pick up the second BEAUTIFUL AMERICANS book in Fall 2009.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2008

    Good Book But Tainted By Inappropriate Content (Reviewed by TheBookworm)

    Beautiful Americans by Lucy Silag<BR/>Publication Date: January 2009<BR/>3 out of 5 stars<BR/>R - Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Sexual Content and References (also Homosexuality)<BR/><BR/>In the most romantic city in the world, four American teens use their new freedom to the fullest. Thousands of miles from their homes and families, they are attending the Programme Americaine at the Lycee de Monceau, the most respected study abroad programs. The few high school students selected for this program get to attend a school in Paris for a whole year. For four of the students this is a new beginning, a new life of opportunities. But to grab hold of these chances they will have to first let go of the past¿<BR/><BR/>Beautiful Americans was a good book tainted by a huge mass of unneeded inappropriate content.<BR/><BR/>The characters were very flawed humans. Most of the time I felt horrible for the characters and their pitiful circumstances brought on by their own bad decisions and wrong doings. But then I became annoyed by their constant unremorseful mistakes. Olivia, Alex, and Zack were driving me nuts! I felt completely sorry for PJ and all that befell her. She didn¿t once do anything inappropriate, but a huge amount of stress and harassment hit her at every turn.<BR/><BR/>The idea of a book about teens going to school in a foreign country, where they have to adapt to their new environment and customs, and fall in love at the same time intrigued me. I enjoyed reading about the groups budding friendship and their growing trust in one another. Without each other, I highly doubt they wouldn¿t have had a melt down.<BR/><BR/>Beautiful Americans was told through four different people. Because of this the timeline was a little choppy. You would know the generally month, but different events were smeared together. The timeline kept going back and forth from present to past with each character. The whole time you are reading you are slightly confused as to when each event happened.<BR/><BR/>I wish that the author would remove the inappropriate content or at least tone it done. No one under the age of 15 should even attempt reading this book.<BR/><BR/>Beautiful Americans was a pretty good book and I believe I will read its sequel when it comes out (Fall of 2009).<BR/><BR/>Date Reviewed: November 11th, 2008<BR/><BR/>To see more of my book reviews go to my blog at www.inthecurrent.blogspot.com

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2012

    Good Book. :)

    This is a good story just the cover draws you in to the book. Once you start reading it then you font wanna put it down.

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  • Posted August 15, 2011

    Beautiful Americans

    Great book! Haven't read it on my nook, but I have read the actual book, and all of the characters are well developed. I especially love the author's choice of setting, in Paris of Lycee. Alex - a rich New Yorker whose attitude is very selfish and rude, but is still a sixteen (turns seventeen during the book) year old girl who just wants true love and friendship. Now Zack was one of my more favorite characters in Beautiful Americans. With him being a just recent come out to his sexuality, he's also goaling towards finding the right kind of life for him and the right kind of person to have it with. Olivia's hard-work and upright passion for dancing kept me excited for any life changing choices. (And believe me, it did happen.) But with her head kept straight and able to make her own decisions, I like how she wants to what she loves...right were she is. And lastly PJ -Penelope Jane- was probably the most memorable character in Beautiful Americans. Just trying to get away from her dark past, PJ find her self stuck in a selfish and horrible host family, who coincedentally, also know her secrets. Though all four of these characters are very different, from habits to accents, they are all tangled within Paris' array of friendships, relationships, schoolwork, family, food, shopping, and secrets. After all, they are just four different, but alike Beautiful Americans.

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  • Posted November 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Study Abroad, in high school

    The most defining feature of this book is the fact that it is American teenagers but set in Paris at the Lycee- a very nice twist on the high school setting. The four main characters all have vastly different but still strong personalities and although some of them bothered me, I grew to love them all.

    Alex is selfish, stuck up, and completely self centered but she still wants love and friendship. Even though many parts of her story were very obvious, it was in that way the reader is almost screaming at her to figure it out but knowing what lies ahead and wishing to protect her. Or maybe that was just me. Her vulnerable side came out in a great way and I certainly look forward to more from her in the next 2 books. She is the character I can see many people disliking the book because they don't like her but truthfully, for me, it made me like the book more because I could see it from her eyes. Zack is adorable in so many ways- a completely loveable gay. His background and the family he left behind to come study in France lends more drama and angst to his sexual orientation but I really did think he was tastefully done. Not too much but it was still a defining thing about him- many things came back to it but it wasn't in a way where I felt Silag was just trying to remind readers he was gay. His orientation was a true stuggle for him and that came out well in the book. PJ intrigued me the most and although I thought her character was kind of an idiot sometimes, her particular background grabbed at me. She very much was the girl just trying to put her past behind her, move on, and find her way in the world- and became too distracted by that to really notice much else in a way. Olivia, finally, was the character I felt grew the most through this book. There was a noticeable difference between when she was first introduced to the girl that was at the close of this first book in the trilogy but it seemed very much like a smooth transition, not rushed and not forced. Although the story only spans the fall semester, that is still a lot of time, especially in a foreign country- and I felt like Olivia showed how big an impact that could have more than anyone.

    The ending was a massive cliffhanger, setting things up perfectly for the next installment which comes out Christmas Eve and yes, I am definitely going to be getting it. I am very eager to find out what happens next and where things will go from here. This is certainly an easy read- filled with drama but because it shifts between the different characters, the reader isn't stuck with one thing for too long and the French setting also makes it refreshing compared to typical high school drama. One thing I did really like about this story was the fact that although it shifts between 4 perspectives, only a few times did I have to stop to think of what the new chapter and new character were doing- the transitions were pretty seamless, overall, with very little backtracking within a character's story to earlier chapters. The four different story lines overlapped in a way to tell a story greater than just them- the reader could see the entire picture and not just one character's focus and view of it, helped along by how the characters interacted with each other within the chapters. The writing was good- it didn't astound me and take my breath away, but it didn't bore me or turn me off and I actually really liked the cover- it is beautiful (pun intended.)

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  • Posted October 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    What Starts in Paris, Stays in Paris. Or Does It?

    With descriptive and delicious adjectives, Lucy Silang captures the reader, and brings them into a world of surviving adolescence, the past, and most of all, Paris. This tale of multiple lives that suddenly become interwoven through a simple trip, is so addicting to read, that putting it down (at least for me) was practically impossible. PJ's uncertain past that still follows her, Zack's super secret that even scares him, Alex's ambition and determination to get what she wants, and Olivia's hopes for the future, are the qualities that define each, but could also destroy them. If you want romance, mystery, and not the usual "teen" genre drama, then this book is for you. So put down that gossip girl, throw away that Twilight, and start reading a trilogy in the making that has such a great plot, you may not be able to escape the world of "Beautiful Americans".

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  • Posted June 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    So Good.

    It took me a few chapters to really get into the characters. With a book that switches characters like this one dose, it gets a bit confusing to figure out who is who sometimes, and that was definitely the case for me in this one. Once you got to know the characters on a deeper level, however, the story took a dramatic change for me. I grew more attached to the characters and there lives wile living in Paris. This is very much a book that I will reread, and I recommend it to any teen looking for a good read about love, adventure and trying to find out who you really are.

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  • Posted June 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Beautiful Americans

    Overall, the book was ok. It had a good storyline, but it was a bit more sexually oriented than the sypnopsis led me to believe. Aside from that, it was a good read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Book!!!!

    I thought that this book was just great. I really loved PJ's character and Alex. I loved how the story was told from different POV's. I really liked getting to see every characters opinion. LOVED THE BOOK!

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