Title: Falling in Love with English Boys
Author: Melissa Jensen
Release Date: December 23, 2010
Publisher: Speak (Penguin imprint)
Catherine Vernon is stuck in London over the summer, away from her friends, her ex-boyfriend (good riddance), and anything remotely familiar. So she blogs about her summer to her friends. Desperate to do something while her (s)mother's off researching boring historical stuff, Cat starts reading the 1815 diary of a young British girl her mom gives her and finds their lives oddly similar. But where Katherine has the whirls of society and the parties, Cat only has the really good British chocolate. Until she meets William, the super hot descendant of Katherine, and things start to look up...
This book was funny, witty, and very interesting. It was a little different, written in blog posts, but why not? It's a contemporary YA novel (just about everyone and their mom blogs these days). And the plot grabbed hold of me so easily. A displaced girl in a weird apartment (owned by a fungus professor) in a foreign country (so what if it's just England?) with no social support besides the computer? She's bound to go insane if she doesn't find something to do. After reading this book, I wanted to go back to London (I went once in 2008) and try and have the same exact experience Cat did. That says so much about the author, that I want her book to be real and my life for a summer. And include the cute British guy (his name doesn't have to be Will).
I really like Cat. She's funny and snarky but not mean about it. She's trying to get the most out of this trip but it's hard when the weather's dreary and she's been left to find her own way around while her (s)mother's off at a museum all day long. What's familiar to Cat isn't even familiar. Different food, TV, sports, (no one understands cricket). Even the accents can be tricky to understand.
I wasn't totally expecting the blog post format, but after a while I didn't necessarily mind. It still read like prose, like a diary with events and her own perceptions mixed in. It it would've been awesome to have some of the pictures that Cat mentions, even one or two, or even a little map of London. I've been but without a map you're screwed if you want to go to specific places (unless you're the type who likes to travel and wander without care). I did love the fact that there were links included, like a real blog post, if a place or event sounded interesting and you wanted to learn more. Points for ingenuity.
I know I wasn't expecting the diary entries of Katherine's, but I think I understand why the author included them. There are similarities between Cat and Katherine, between then and now. Just because there weren't computers or TV or Hello! magazine doesn't mean her life was any more or less interesting or important than Cat's. Sometimes I liked Catherine more because of the actual historical value from her entries.
I haven't seen a lot of buzz around this book, and it's been out since the end of 2010. It's fun and different and exotic (I know it's England, but still). It's not chick lit, Cat doesn't come across like a pink flouncy girl, but her attitude makes her more believable, more real, more possible. More angsty teenager writing a blog for her close friends thousands of miles away. This book filled the part of me that craves contemporary YA set in Europe, and so I tucked it away with Rachel Hawthorne's A Year in Europe: Three Novels and Stephanie Perkins' Anna and the French Kiss where it belongs.