It's the weekend before Valentine's Day and who doesn't love a love story? Especially one that's set in dreamy Europe, during a 12 day cruise! I get it, some of you have already stopped reading but I adored this book.
Lenore Bennett (our main character) is artistically talented, has the fashion sense of a goddess, an amazing friend group, a (pretty) supportive family (we'll get to that later), was accepted to NYU for the fall, but has THE worst luck in love. She finds out at her senior prom the guy she had been dating was actually just using her as a side piece after giving her every excuse in the book. I see you Jay (the ex) and I don't approve.
Anyway, Lenore is setting sail with her family: mom and dad (super successful people that haven't had a vacation in years), older brother Wally (just "graduated" law school and had a devastating breakup with his boyfriend) and little sister Etta (child prodigy, seriously at ten years old she writes essays for fun and takes classes at the community college). Right before they set sail, there is a huge joint graduation party for Lenore (graduating high school) and Wally (graduating college). At the party Lenore is talking with her beloved grandma and expressing she might be less than thrilled to start at NYU in the fall majoring in art history. She might just be doing it because her parents expect A LOT from their children. Of course, grandma candidly mentions it to her parents and now they are up in arms about Lenore always flip flopping between hobbies. Why can't she be more like her brother Wally who is on the fast track to becoming a lawyer just like their dad? They tell Lenore she better "figure things out" by the end of this upcoming cruise. Pressure much?!
Tessa (Lenore's bestie) instructs her to toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain at the beginning of the cruise and make a wish for a European love affair. Lenore is of course cynical, but she does it anyway, and...BAM! she meets Alex. Alex is dreamy and of course super motivated. He's attending UCLA in the fall on the pre-med track in the footsteps of his mom. Alex and Lenore's families hit it off because they are seated together in the dining hall. They don't necessarily fall head over heels in love at first sight, but if they did this book wouldn't be any good. You would be surprised at the ups and downs they encounter on this 12 day cruise and it's more than just the literal ones that make Lenore sea sick. This book ends in the beautiful Park Guell, but I can't tell you the ending, because that's cheating, so read it for yourself. You'll love it!
I loved this book for the love and the dreamy settings, but also for the courage that Lenore and Wally have to face some tough decisions about their futures. They have been living for their parents approval and not making decisions that will make them happy in their futures. This is a hard time in anyone's life when you make the choice to start living for you and not for the approval of others.
Elise Bryant, thank you for making me laugh (yoga fart scene on page 142), cry (Wally speaking his truth about succumbing to severe panic attacks page 277), and smile (when grandma gives Lenore her old pink Polaroid camera from her childhood page 45). I will be reading EVERYTHING you write from now on!