Bea thinks she's the most boring seventeen-year-old in the world. She's not pretty or popular or funny, unlike her mother who had Bea when she was 17. The only glamorous thing about Bea is the French father who left before she was born and lives in Paris.
She yearns for la vie Parisienne every moment of her dull existence. So when Ruby Davies, the leader of her school's most elite clique picks Bea as her new best friend and asks her to go on holiday with them, she's wary but delighted. If nothing else it's two weeks away from her over-protective mother.
But when the gang arrive in Spain, Bea is crushed to realise that Ruby and her posse have simply been using her. Bea wreaks vengeance on her so-called friends, and plans to decamp to Paris to find her father. But when she falls asleep on the train and wakes up in Bilbao, she meets a group of American students who are backpacking around Europe and bonds with them straight away, especially the gorgeous Toph who helps heals Bea's hurting heart.
Though Bea has a shock in store when they finally get to Paris. The 'City of Lovers' really works it magic on Bea and Toph who spend a week wandering the sun-dappled streets of Paris, talking, holding hands and falling in love. When it comes time to go home to confront her Mum about her mysterious father, the new version of Bea is determined that she'll never go back to her old, boring way of life - she's no longer Nobody's Girl; she belongs to herself and to Toph...
But with an ocean between them, will he wait for her?
I'm a huge fan of Sarra Manning, so I was expecting this to be good and, of course, it was! Living in London myself, I could really relate to Bea and her worries- going to an all girls' school means there's constant gossiping, and there's always that one group of girls who seem to think they're better than everyone else. I liked how Bea wasn't begging to be in the 'popular girls' group- it just happened to her, and once she was in she didn't want to leave. The progression from Bea-the-loser to Bea-Ruby's-best-friend was entertaining to read. I especially enjoyed the scene where Bea's new 'friends' are trying to find her someone to make out with, and the guy they find turns out to be gay as Bea gains an ally at the parties Ruby and the others take her to.
I detested Ruby as a character, especially because I know a few girls like her who think the world of themselves when they're really not that great. Luckily though, they're not my friends or my enemies. Ruby was a horrible person, yes, but she was extremely realistic, as were the other girls who fawned over her.
Once they were on holiday, the book become more entertaining. I loveeed the scene where Bea threw Ruby's clothes out of the window and wrote everyone's secrets on the whiteboard; I really admired her for doing that.
I thought that the scenario with the American 20-year-olds inviting a 17-year-old to come to Paris with them was a teensy bit unrealistic but then again, if that hadn't happened, then Bea wouldn't have spent time with Toph etc. So it was a bit implausible, but a good thing all the same. Reading about Paris was lovely! Sarra Manning described it extremely well, and it made me want to go to Paris again (last time was three years ago). It was so much fun reading about Bea and Toph experiencing it together, and falling in love... one thing I would have preferred though would have been for Sarra Manning to show a bit more interaction between them while they were alone like what they talked about together, and how that made them fall in love with each other.
The lesson of the story was predictable but appropriate- to be yourself, and not to change to get others to like you, because people can end up liking you a lot more if you just yourself.
All in all, it was a really fun read, sweet and romantic, and I loved how a big portion of it was set in Paris! It definitely made the story more romantic.