By: Natalie Blitt
Published Year: 2016
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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): Seventeen-year old Abby has only one goal for her summer: to make sure she is fluent in French—well, that, and to get as far away from baseball and her Cubs-obsessed family as possible. A summer of culture and language, with no sports in sight.
That turns out to be impossible, though, because her French partner is the exact kind of boy she was hoping to avoid. Eight weeks. 120 hours of class. 80 hours of conversation practice with someone who seems to exclusively wear baseball caps and jerseys.
But Zeke in French is a different person than Zeke in English. And Abby can’t help but fall for him, hard. As Abby begins to suspect that Zeke is hiding something, she has to decide if bridging the gap between the distance between who she is and who he is, is worth the risk.
This book was put on my radar through the Debut Author Challenge hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. The cover and the title immediately caught my eye. When I saw this book was about a girl whose family was huge Cubs fans I knew I needed to read this book. I haven’t read many books about Cubs fans, so I was intrigued and excited as a native Chicagoan and Cubs fan myself.
What I thought
Everything I expected and wanted this book to be it was.
Abby is spending the summer in New Hampshire away from her Cubs/baseball obsessed family in Chicago. She hates baseball and has found her passion in speaking French. Abby’s goal is to attend a high school program in France for her final semester of her senior year of high school and from there go to a French university. As a way to get there, she decides to spend her summer at an 8 week French intensive course at a university. Zeke looks like a stereotypical jock, but also turns out to be a part of the French program as well. Since they are the only two high schoolers taking the course, the French professor tells them that she would like them to be partners throughout the course. From there, French sparks begin to fly.
It’s not very often that books are set in college, or even freshman year of college. While this one isn’t exactly set in college, it gives that feel of being at college for the first time. By doing so, Blitt was able to include some very real problems and life issues that occur in college that don’t’ occur during other points of your life. One of the characters mentions that a day in their life is more like a week back in their lives back home as they are surrounded by each other all day every day with nothing else going on. This so perfectly captures what college, especially freshman year, feels like and I connected with that.
I enjoyed the setting a lot and appreciated that the story focused around the two main characters and one secondary character. There are more characters that are a part of the story, but I enjoyed that they never got in the way. This wasn’t the type of story where outside people caused any issues or difficulties in their relationship.
Abby is a really sweet character to read about. I really liked her and even though she had her issues, she never got on my nerves. I loved her passion for the French language and it was fascinating to watch it develop. I also think that Blitt does a wonderful job with writing the French and the French conversations. From someone who doesn’t understand French at all (I took Spanish in high school), I never felt lost or frustrated. It was a unique twist on the story that the characters almost 100% communicated in a language other than English.
Zeke is also totally swoon-worthy. He comes off as sweet and thoughtful but still masculine. While he has his moments where he does stupid things (like all college boys), he’s never unlikeable. I would be really curious to read this entire story again from his perspective. As the story goes on, his side becomes very interesting and I would love to learn more.
In addition to not speaking French, I am a very informal baseball fan. I enjoy going to Cubs games for the event and environment, but I don’t follow it hard core. Even though I am not hugely into baseball, it was written in a way that I was able to enjoy it. It both was and was not a large part of the story and I think Blitt did a nice job balancing it within the story.
I think one of the things that I enjoyed the most is that while the story isn’t wholly unique, it never feels cliché or overly predictable. This is one of those few books that I wish the story was longer because I want more! Like I mentioned, I would gladly read a story from Zeke’s point of view, but I would also love to read a sequel.
By: Natalie Blitt