The S.A.S.S. (Students Across the Seven Seas) series kicked off with Westminster Abby by Micol Ostow ("Teenage girls, especially those with a penchant for travel, will find this a light yet flavorful morsel," PW said), and now 17-year-old Nicole heads to the City of Light for Pardon My French by Cathy Hapka. But alors, Paree does not seem so gay when she must leave behind her heartthrob Nate... until a debonaire Frenchman comes along. Also due this month: Spain or Shine by Michelle Jellen. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Emme Yeargin
Nicole Larson, a seventeen-year-old girl from Peabody Corner, Maryland, is about to embark on the trip of a lifetime. As she prepares to spend the first semester of her senior year studying abroad in Paris, her parents, who think this will be a great experience for her, are more excited than she is. However, Nicole doesn't want to leave her friends, and most important, the love of her life, her boyfriend, Nate. Hence, when Nicole finds herself beginning the semester all alone in Paris, she is less than thrilled. Even though her time in France gets off to a rough start, Nicole slowly but surely begins to fall in love with Paris, thanks to a few new friends and her host family. Just as Nicole starts to like Paris and really starts to appreciate her surroundings, Nate breaks up with her after backing out of a promised weekend visit. Crushed, Nicole immediately wants to go home to fix things herself, but after talking with her new friends and some soul-searching, she decides to stay in Paris, and ultimately rejects Nate when he wants to get back together. The first-person point of view helps the reader to connect with the narrator, making them feel a part of the story. In addition, in moving the stereotypical "high school couple falls in love" story outside of the United States, the author adds international dimensions that make this a better than the average teen love story. Though having limited classroom appeal because of its gender bias toward female readers, teachers might use the book to help young women realize that they can do anything if they try hard enough, and they might also use it to teach students about emotional growth and self-esteem.
Nicole is positive she is going to hate Paris. She is only taking part in the study abroad program because her parents "have an obsessive need" for her to broaden her horizons and experience life outside the safety of her friends and boyfriend Nate. But she is sure she cannot live without Nate and that everything her friends have said about France is true--and none of it is good. She will not enjoy herself, she will never make friends, she will not learn anything new, and she is counting down the days until she is home. This pessimistic view of what her semester in Paris is going to be like is buoyed when she vomits at the feet of Luc, her host family's nanny, upon arrival at their home and then proceeds to get lost on the mFtro, Paris's train system. Told in third person with periodic e-mails, readers take a journey of self-discovery and growth with Nicole as she finds and defines herself apart from the influence of those she thought were her closest friends and outside the farthest reaches of her comfort zone. All of the characters are subtly drawn with nothing overdone. This fourth book in the series is sure to please with the balanced tone of humor and seriousness set in the first few pages that serve as Nicole's application to the S.A.S.S. study abroad program. (Students Across the Seven Seas). KLIATT Codes: JS--Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2005, Penguin, Speak, 224p., Ages 12 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-After spending most of her childhood moving from town to town, Nicole is glad to be settled in one place to finish high school. When she starts daydreaming about marrying her boyfriend after graduation, her parents decide that she needs to broaden her horizons. They sign her up for the "Students Across the Seven Seas" program, and soon she is unhappily headed for Paris where she will attend school and live with an American family. Despite her negative attitude, she makes friends with the other exchange students and her host family's French nanny. As a new culture and new experiences make Nicole more mature and confident, she begins to realize that her decisions about her boyfriend and to belong to the in-crowd are limiting her potential. Nicole starts out as shallow and slightly unlikable, but does show some real growth as the story progresses. This addition to the series is a respectable entry in the teen chick-lit genre, but it moves a bit slowly.-Stephanie L. Petruso, Anne Arundel County Public Library, Odenton, MD Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
The magic of Paris…
“Look,” he said softly, pointing over and up.
Nicole followed his gaze. There, rising in the air, so close it seemed almost larger than life, was the angular metal skeleton of the Eiffel Tower. White lights picked out its every curve and strut, making it stand out against the dark sky.
“Oh!” she gasped in surprise. “It’s—it’s beautiful!”
She had seen the Eiffel Tower many times, of course—it was difficult to go anywhere in the center of Paris without coming upon yet another view of it. But from this angle it looked like a whole new structure, looming and strangely mysterious, almost alive.
Becoming aware that Luc was watching her rather than the Tower, she turned and met his gaze.
He smiled. “I thought you would appreciate it,” he said. “You, I think, have the ability to see what is special, what is important.”
His face moved closer. Nicole stared into his eyes, mesmerized by the guileless, undemanding appreciation she saw there. So different from the way Nate looked at her most of the time.
She did nothing to stop Luc as he bent down and kissed her. His lips felt soft and warm against her own, and she let her eyes fall shut as she pressed against him.