Author : Isabelle Laflèche
Published by : Dundurn Press
Date Published : November 26, 2019
Genre / Tags : YA, Contemporary, Fashion, Travel, Romance
Formats : Paperback, eBook
# of Pages : 280 pages
Clementine Liu is back for more fashion, dating, and drama!
Clementine Liu, the super-stylish fashion student behind the Bonjour Girl blog, is about to finish her first eventful year in New York City. Ready to put all the drama behind her, she’s about to embark on a prestigious exchange program — in Shanghai!
Before Clementine actually sets foot in China, though, a whole bunch of problems put her impending departure in jeopardy. Despite it all, Clementine flies off to Shanghai, where she immerses herself in the new, exciting fashion world and cutthroat blogging scene. Then there’s Henry, a charming classmate who’s on a mission to capture her heart, despite her New York boyfriend.
Even halfway across the world, Clementine can’t escape her problems. But can she find a way to survive and thrive while staying true to herself?
Bonjour Shanghai (sequel to Bonjour Girl, this is a two book series) is quite a fast read. I’d been reading a few books in the 300 page range around the same time. Bonjour Shanghai is only slightly shorter than that and I zoomed through it in a couple of hours. The writing style is simple in ways that are both good and bad, the good being its brisk readability.
While the details about Shanghai are sparse, Clementine (the heroine) does make some worthwhile observations. She is very interested in environmentalism and sustainability. These aspects are mentioned in a direct and simply appealing and understandable way, not too clinical or boring. For example, the sections about jean production causing pollution were interesting.
Having not read the first book in this series, this sequel was surprisingly approachable and nicely self-contained, I definitely didn’t feel like I was missing out on a massive larger plot. The first book sounds like it might be entertaining, based on the little references to it that are sprinkled throughout this volume.
Now for the not-so-good…
While Clementine wasn’t completely unlikable, she isn’t a heroine with a lot of depth and comes off as flighty and short-sighted. The few emotional sections have her coming off as very immature in comparison to other YA heroines in contemporaries I’ve read.
Though a light and simple read, I really felt like the focal points are shallow even within that context. I was never left with an immersive sense of Shanghai or fashion or the angst of Clementine’s relationships (there is a love triangle here, along with cheating/emotional cheating) beyond a surface level. Also, it took way too long for the trip to Shanghai to start.
I feel like this book was a bit too cutesy and simplistic for YA. Clementine reads as so much younger than her age, closer to 13-14 years old than late teens. Furthermore, I could imagine the descriptions of colorful fashion and the heroine’s fun life as an aspiring fashion designer might have a more dazzling effect on a younger, middle grade audience. Minus a couple moments of harsh language and a short, undetailed paragraph hinting toward characters getting intimate, I could easily imagine tweens enjoying a tweaked middle grade version of this book.
Overall Rating – 5.5/10
Why You Should Try It – If you’re in the mood for a very fast, easy, cutesy read that tends toward the younger side of YA. The fusion of travel, fashion, and light romance has its bright points. Clementine’s commitment to fashion blogging and environmentalism is well-conveyed.
Why You Might Not Like It – The writing style is exceedingly simplistic and Clementine comes off as shallow in her relationships. The whole experience of travel is barely felt. Also didn’t care for the romance and cheating sub-plot.
Disclosure : Many thanks to Netgalley and Dundurn Press for providing me an e-ARC of this title for the purpose of review.
Have you read the Bonjour Girl series or anything else by Isabelle Lafleche? What’s your favorite contemporary YA? Thanks so much for checking out my review. ~ Kitty