To celebrate the long-awaited release of Isla and the Happily Ever After (hooray!), today we are featuring books with characters who study abroad. As a former study-abroad student, I love to read about the adventures of students in foreign countries.
School of America in Paris:
Anna Oliphant's father sends her to the School of America in Paris for
her senior year of high school, and she is not happy about it. She does
not want to leave her friends, her mother and brother, and her life in
Atlanta. But who couldn't be won over by Paris, especially when there is
a perfect boy there? Anna and the French Kiss is so utterly charming. I loved Anna.
She is so normal. I would like to be her friend. And I loved St. Clair.
And did I mention Paris? The chemistry between Anna
and St. Clair is perfect. Their banter is fun, flirty, and witty. Stephanie Perkins writes of friends, friendship, love, and courage. It's
a book that I wanted to reread the moment I finished it.
Senior Year in London:
The Name of the Star
was one of my favorite post-Halloween 2013 ghost stories. When her
professor parents take a position in Bristol, Louisiana-native Rory
Deveaux starts her senior year at Wexford, a boarding school in London.
London is being terrorized by a Jack-the-Ripper copycat. Rory becomes
the single eyewitness and one of the few to know about London's secret
ghost police. I really enjoyed this book, in part, because Rory is really
funny. I actually laughed out loud several times as I was listening to
this book. (The reader does a nice job with the many different accents, by the
way.) Stories like this can get really serious, but Maureen Johnson balances the action, the horror, the intensity, and the everyday
Spring Break in London:
London setting in Lauren Morrill's Meant to Be was a huge bonus because I also did London
study abroad. Julia is a straight-lace, rule-abiding athlete. As a rule-abiding, over-achieving, athlete, I definitely
could relate to her. Jason is the class clown whose antics make everyone
laugh, but he has unseen depths. Julia can't stand him. While I
liked Julia and Jason, and I liked them together, I wished that Julia
wasn't always the one to bend. The rules these kids break! My
rule-abiding self cringes. While it's true that Julia needs to loosen
up, Jason needs to straighten up a bit. Why can't Jason see the wonder
of the National Gallery, just as Julia opens her mind to the merits of
College in Leningrad:
In Natalie Standiford's novel, it's 1982 and college student Laura Reid goes to Leningrad with a study abroad
program. She meets Alexei there. As Laura gets more and more involved
with Alexei the stakes get higher, and although Laura loves Alexei she's
not sure his motives are pure. I didn't think I would get this engrossed in a Cold War novel,
but I found myself reading it in the wee hours of the morning,
oscillating, along with Laura, between trust and mistrust of Alexei. The Boy on the Bridge is definitely not your typical fairytale romance. It's
clear that Laura always feels like the foreigner, the outsider, and,
thus, the reader does too. The professor/ type-A student in me cringes
at how seemingly uninvested Laura is in her studies, but I can shove
that aside for the sake of the book.
School of America in Paris II:
Isla and the Happily Ever After follows two of the characters from Anna and the French Kiss, Isla and Josh, who attend the School of America in Paris. Shy
Isla has had a crush on Josh for years when she runs into him over
summer break in New York. She thinks maybe it's fate, but when they return to school in Paris in the fall things are awkward as always. Until they aren't. It was a treat to be back in Paris where I first fell in love
with Stephanie Perkins's
characters. Josh and
Isla fall hard for each other, and I fell hard for them. Both Isla and Josh have depths
that most people don't see, but they see each other. Isla and the Happily Ever After
is a heady, romantic read with
characters who make mistakes and get second chances.