Title: I See London, I See France
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Genre & Age Group: Contemporary, travel, young adult
I see London, I see France, I see Sydney’s underpants.
Nineteen-year-old Sydney has the perfect summer mapped out. She’s spending the next four and half weeks traveling through Europe with her childhood best friend, Leela. Their plans include Eiffel-Tower selfies, eating cocco gelato, and making out with très hot strangers. Her plans do not include Leela’s cheating ex-boyfriend showing up on the flight to London, falling for the cheating ex-boyfriend’s très hot friend, monitoring her mother’s spiraling mental health via texts, or feeling like the rope in a friendship tug-of-war.
As Sydney zigzags through Amsterdam, Switzerland, Italy, and France, she must learn when to hold on, when to keep moving, and when to jump into the Riviera…wearing only her polka-dot underpants.
Source: School library
At first glance, this book may seem a bit silly. I totally get that- and it’s what I thought as well. However, behind the silly synopsis, title, and cover lies a beautiful story of friendship, wanderlust, and cuteness. I See London, I See France may seem like the type of book that is embarrassing to carry around in public, but it’s the inside that matters, right?
For a brief synopsis, I See London, I See France follows childhood best friends Sydney and Leela, who are on a summer trip to Europe together. When Leela’s ex-boyfriend ends up on their plane, they know they are in for trouble- and Sydney having a mom who has nervous breakdowns and doesn’t want her to travel doesn’t make things better. Will Sydney and Leela still live up to making this the trip of their dreams?
I really loved both Sydney and Leela and the strong, loyal friendship they had. Sydney reminded me of myself with her self-sacrificing loyalty, organization skills, and analytical intelligence, and though Leela was very obviously different from Sydney, I still got the gist of why they came to become such close friends. The girls also first bonded over books, which I thought was awesome! I honestly could never get enough of books involving robust friendships.
This is not your typical “travelling-around-Europe-book”– there are so many surprises and plot-twists included to make it extraordinarily different and fun. Basically, this book was a roller coaster of suspense and fluffiness. It definitely was not the dark kind of suspense, however, but a warm and fuzzy kind that had me sitting at the edge of my seat throughout the story. I could barely stop reading because it was just so much fun!
However, since no book can be perfect, there are two minor setbacks. First, there are some complaints going around about the representation of Sydney’s mom’s agoraphobia. Since I am not a doctor and since I am not qualified to make any judgements about the rep, I respect the majority opinion in this case. I also kind of wish that the author had described Europe in a bit more detail. I got the vibes of where they were while reading, but I couldn’t always coherently visualize it.
All in all, I See London, I See France is THE BOOK to pick up if you would like to be given wanderlust and all of the warm fuzzies. There isn’t much emotional depth to this novel, but the two protagonists are amazing and so is their friendship, and the storyline does not fail to impress with all of its bumps and turns. What more do you need in a book about travelling?