Book Review: I See London, I See France

I See London, I See France
By: Sarah Mlynowski
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
Page Count: 336
Buy it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Young Adult/New Adult - Contemporary

Sydney is in for the summer of a lifetime! She will be traveling around Europe with her best friend, Leela, for 4.5 weeks. I couldn't help being jealous of the trip as I wish that I had done something like that after my first year of college, but alas, I didn't have the funds or courage to become a world traveler. I loved getting the chance to live vicariously through Sydney.

The trip isn't without its bumps. Sydney's mother suffers from severe anxiety that keeps her at home as she fears she will have a panic attack out in public. Since her parents divorce, Sydney has done everything she could to take care of her mother and shelter her younger sister, Addison, from how bad things are with their mom. Sydney even encourages Leela to take the trip with her boyfriend, Matt, so that she doesn't have to leave her mom and sister, but Matt's poor decision making and Leela's nagging leads to a messy breakup that lands Sydney on a plane to Europe when she was convinced she'd never get out of Maryland. In fact, she is a commuter student to the University of Maryland so she can live at home with her mom. I felt like Sydney deserved this trip after she had given up so much of her teen years to be the caretaker. It wasn't fair for so much to land on her shoulders. There were moments when I was worried that Sydney would allow things back home to influence her enough to send her back early, but eventually she learns to realize she doesn't have to hold everything together all on her own.

Another major bump is the fact that Leela's ex, Matt, is on their flight to London. Apparently he decided not to cancel his ticket and travel plans. Leela is furious. How dare he steal her trip? This is where I started to get irked with Leela and it escalates from there. The entire trip becomes about her and her issues. One minute she wants to reconcile with Matt, leaving Sydney to fend for herself, and the next she wants to never see him again. The girl gave me whiplash trying to keep up with her rollercoaster of emotions and I felt bad that Sydney lost out on some things she wanted to see and do because of Leela's self absorption. Leela even went so far as to change the itinerary multiple times to suit her whims - Sydney's planning be damned. I wanted Leela to snap out of her selfish mood; she was in Europe for goodness sake! There are plenty of things to do and see. If she wanted to mope over Matt, she could have done that from home and saved a lot of money. I felt that Leela held Sydney back from experiences and Sydney often allowed her loyalty to Leela to trump her own desires. There is nothing wrong with being a good friend, but so often this friendship seemed one sided.

Another element that comes into play is Matt's travel companion, the handsome Jackson, who comes with a reputation and a killer smile. Sydney is instantly smitten, but Leela warns that while Jackson makes excellent fling material, he is not the relationship sort. Sydney will have to decide what she wants and if appearances are always accurate.

Sydney and Leela's adventures take them to some amazing locales: London (England), Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Bruges (Belgium), Paris (France), Interlaken (Switzerland), Juan-Les-Pins (France), Monte Carlo (Monaco), Pisa (Italy), Venice (Italy), and Corfu (Greece). Many of these locations I am familiar with, but some were new to me. I was fascinated by the sites and culture of the stops along the way, but I was sad that some locations - such as Berlin - got cut from the travel plan.

In the end, Sydney and Leela's friendship evolves into something more mature as each girl owns up to her mistakes and they both vow to work on their shortcomings. I was also happy to see how each of them ended on the romantic side of things, but I will keep that to myself.

I did want to note that while this novel is marked as YA and will appeal to older teens, in my opinion, some of the events cross into NA territory. The scenes are not as explicit as some I seen in NA, but I don't think I'd hand this novel to a younger teen. It makes sense as the main character is nineteen that she will experience things differently than a high school student. 

The ending fell a little flat for me, but I know there is another novel coming. It felt like there were a lot of loose threads. I'm not sure if it will be told from Sydney's perspective and will pick up where this left off or if it will take us in a completely different direction. I'd love to see what happens for Sydney and Leela once they arrived back home in the states as well as when they return to college at the University of Maryland and McGill.

If you are in the need for some serious travel, but find yourself without a vacation in sight, I highly suggest snagging a copy of I See London, I See France. Sydney makes an excellent tour guide.

One Last Gripe: The Amsterdam segment, while realistic, made me a bit uncomfortable in parts.

Favorite Thing About This Book: The amazing settings

First Sentence: The Basics: London, the capital of England, is the perfect gateway city for your European adventure.

Favorite Character: Sydney

Least Favorite Character: Leela at times, Matt all the time

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. 

In this hilarious and unforgettable adventure, New York Timesbestselling author Sarah Mlynowski tells the story of a girl learning to navigate secret romances, thorny relationships, and the London Tube. 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.


  1. What a fantastic review! Thanks for pointing me in the direction of what sounds like a fun read. My 14 year old daughter and I are traveling to Europe in the Spring. This book just shot to the top of my must read list.

  2. This one wasn't even on my radar. I would love to read it, though.


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