A group of American teens embark on an exchange year at an exclusive Parisian high school. Each has high hopes for the year: Olivia wants to join a ballet company that will increase her chances of getting a college scholarship, rich and spoiled Alex wants to live the high life, effortlessly beautiful PJ wants to escape her past and trendy Zack wants to explore his homosexuality far away from the confines of his strict Baptist upbringing.
This installment of the beautiful Americans story covers the ups and downs of their first semester at the school and is told from four very contrasting points of view. Having been an exchange student myself, I found their lives abroad pretty engaging and even tame compared to the exchange years I experienced. Yes, there is a lot of seduction, getting drunk, and acting out – that is what happens when a bunch of 16 year olds are on their own in a foreign country for the first time.
That said, there were a couple of things that bothered me, and they mainly had to do with the character of Alex. She was quite simply a royal pain in the rear end. Competitive, catty, and completely unrepentant of her increasingly bad behavior, Alex is the type that would have been sent home in the second week in any real exchange program. I mean, are we really expected to believe that she would get away with walking out on a two thousand Euro restaurant check? No way.
The teens portrayed in Beautiful Americans are certainly more glamorous than most of the ones in any of my programs, but they face the same kind of challenges – trying to get along with host families, making new friends in an unfamiliar environment, falling for exotic foreigners and consequently falling out of love with long term honeys back home, and hoping to avoid the dreaded letter bomb (an e-mail from home with bad news).
Look for this in January and the sequel in Fall 2009. Cannot wait that long? Well, I have two copies to give away. One I will give to the first person who claims it in the comments and the other I will randomly give to one other person who comments on this post by November 25th. This one is open internationally.
NOTE: Only those who have never previously claimed a prize this month are eligible for the instant win.