When I was younger my life's goal was to go to/live in London, England.
This goal was so prominent in my mind that during my Home-Ec class when other girls were making those big wedding plans (a project I'm soooooo glad has been deemed sexist and inappropriate) I planned my trip to London--no, really, I told my teacher I wasn't planning on getting married and that if I did I would do so in Vegas. She told me I should plan my honeymoon instead and my trip (not honeymoon) was a go.
My friends used to help me dream about my life in England.
I'd meet a boy named Nigel "Something"(I don't remember his last name)worth the Third and he'd be handsome and rich and have lovely gardens we'd stroll around. I'd meet the Queen (or is it The Queen?) and she'd be so taken with how polite I was that I'd be offered a job and a place in the palace. I'd own a dog. I'd go to pubs. I'd become an archaeologist and figure out what happened to those boys in the Tower. I'd eat lots of fish and chips. I wish I would have kept all the papers on which we doodled my life plan.
And, then it happened. Everything worked out so I could go to London, England...not just a week or a month, but a whole semester...sigh.
I became a part of the Missouri London Program.
I became an exchange student.
It was awesome.
I'd forgotten how much so until I read Anna and the French Kiss, a wonderfully written, light, but in no way breezy, young adult novel by Stephanie Perkins.
This book would just be another typical teen fish out of water tale if it wasn't for the amazing dialogue. I fell in love with Anna the first moment she was introduced. Actually, Perkins has quite a lovely grasp on dialogue and characters and I fell in love with and related to them all. Each character exhibited traits of people I know and cherish. There's the boy who everyone knows is in the wrong relationship, but he doesn't have the backbone to end it. There's the girl who has had a major crush on said boy, but understands that she is not the one. There's the jealous, over-the-top girlfriend. The boy, who is this case happens to be named Etienne (sigh), has his own wonderful set of quirky guy friends. And, there's all the romance of being in a foreign country sans adults. Something about the way these seniors acting seemed totally believable. This may be the first time I've read a book where a girl or two cries alone or accidentally in front of someone and I didn't want to bash my head, or hers, into a brick wall. I even had some of the same culture shock moments ("What the world I left went on without me while I was having a life overseas?"). This book was soooo good that I couldn't put it down and had to finish it, while my friends waited, sitting on a bed in a lovely Los Angeles hotel an amazing view of the Hollywood sign behind me.
The only thing that would have made this book better is if it would have been set in London, no really, I mean that...maybe Stephanie Perkins will do that someday.
So study abroad. If you're lucky you'll meet people half as cool as these people and you'll have wonderful adventures with or without all the romance. If you can't study abroad right away at least read this book and remember your first love, your first time away from home and live overseas vicariously through them.
Reading this book made me get out the 'ole scrapbooks. Memory lane never felt so good.