I enjoyed each of the characters, and could clearly place myself in Anna's shoes. It is hard to like someone and not know how to express yourself, let alone someone who is your best friend and in a devoted relationship with someone else. There are bound to be complications, because teenagers cannot have rational, truthful conversations with each other.
There was a lot of detail, in character and location. In fact, by the end of the novel Paris has become a main character in itself. Its street are a map work of form, the buildings an echo of voices, the theatres the windows to the soul, even the people within have become a warm memory for Anna. Anna paints an image of Paris, and the painting shifts as she grows and learns to be herself in this utterly alien/foreign landscape. By the end, Paris is as much a friend as Mer, Rashmi and Josh.
I loved the idea that home was less of a location and more a person. Home travels with you, in your heart. It was neat to see this down-home American girl realize that roots can grow and encompass more than just family.
There was maybe a little too much drama, and I know they are teenagers so there was bound to be some, but I felt sometimes it was just too in your face and over the top. For example, Anna's anger at her friend for dating a boy she had a 'crush' on; although, I understand this was foreshadowing her own experiences to come, it felt so forced and a creation of conflict to tighten the bonds between Anna and Étienne.
I also have this dislike for novels where characters continuously talk about the other persons looks. Anna and Étienne are guilty of this trait. Beautiful this and beautiful that. This was the reason I could not stand the Twilight Saga, stopped at the first book because Bella was the most superficial character I have ever had the displeasure of reading about. Luckily, this only happened a few grating times and these two talked about other characteristics they loved.
There were plenty of angsty moments and several moments where you wish you could slap Anna or Étienne and say "get over it!" However, this endeared the characters to me more, because they were so flawed and human. They showed their vulnerability and their naïveté. They are the epitome of who we were in high school, secret crushes and all. They were us as we were leaving high school, with a whole future in front of us, no idea where it will lead, fear and excitement surging through our veins.
Book 43/50...7 to go!