“Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined I would find a boyfriend like Mathieu Rousseau.”
Title: One Paris Summer
Author: Denise Graver Swank
Publication: June 7th 2016 by Blink
Summary from Goodreads:
Most teens dream of visiting the City of Lights, but it feels more like a nightmare for Sophie Brooks. She and her brother are sent to Paris to spend the summer with their father, who left home a year ago without any explanation. As if his sudden abandonment weren’t betrayal enough, he’s about to remarry, and they’re expected to play nice with his soon-to-be wife and stepdaughter. The stepdaughter, Camille, agrees to show them around the city, but she makes it clear that she will do everything in her power to make Sophie miserable.
Sophie could deal with all the pain and humiliation if only she could practice piano. Her dream is to become a pianist, and she was supposed to spend the summer preparing for a scholarship competition. Even though her father moved to Paris to pursue his own dream, he clearly doesn’t support hers. His promise to provide her with a piano goes unfulfilled.
Still, no one is immune to Paris’s charm. After a few encounters with a gorgeous French boy, Sophie finds herself warming to the city, particularly when she discovers that he can help her practice piano. There’s just one hitch—he’s a friend of Camille’s, and Camille hates Sophie. While the summer Sophie dreaded promises to become best summer of her life, one person could ruin it all.
One Paris Summer left me with mixed feelings and an unclear idea of what the purpose was. While I liked the setting, the plot was both trivial and obviously an overdone rehash of every contemporary novel ever. On top of that, the characters – while seeming as though they were complex – were also cookie cutter perfect replicas of the usual tropes. The girl who doesn’t want to move and ends up moving, only to find love along the way? Check, and cue Twilight montage. Typical bully stepsister who belongs in Cinderella. Check. Delicious French love interest with less personality than a tasty baguette? Check. As I said, maximum effort on realism and a vibrant setting, the rest of the components fell so flat that it’s impossible for me to pick the biggest offense.
The setting was perfection. It was very reminiscent of Anna and the French Kiss, but that’s not a bad thing. There are only so many ways you can write about Paris, after all. My favorite part of this book has to be the description of the setting in each scene, and, honestly, that’s the only reason I could stomach the rest of this hot mess. Everything is described with precision that would make any mathematician or architect squeal. While I’ve never been to Paris, I could see every little detail clear as day. I feel as though I was there with them, which – in my opinion – is a pretty spectacular achievement.
Now for the not so good part – and I don’t mean frogs legs. The characters were ridiculous, and I mean ridiculous. There was constant crying, constant bitching and complaining, and a constant lack of believable motive for the things listed above. The interesting thing about the characters, and this is also what made them so unbelievably awful, is that they are all extreme ends of a different spectrum. Sophie is a whiny twit most of the time, and it’s pretty bad. Mathieu was “mysterious” to such an extreme that I was actually pretty freaked out by him. I mean, a little bit of mystery is sexy… but that much? Now you feel like a stalker or something. Eric is too overprotective – think of it as Edward to the max. And Camille? Camille makes the evil stepmother or any other evil character seem tame by comparison -AND SHE DOES IT FOR NO OTHER REASON OTHER THAN JUST TO BE MEAN! Argh. Yea… I had it with these yahoos.
Overall, One Paris Summer is cliche after cliche after cliche mixed with no filter and the saving grace that was the scenery. If you want to try it out, fine, but proceed with caution. What could have been an amazing, fun filled romance and coming of age story turned out to be an over processed, over zealous attempt at rewriting something that’s been done a million times before with better results.