February 4th 2010
Hodder Children's Books
Bea thinks she's the most boring seventeen-year-old in the world. She's not pretty or popular or funny, unlike her mother who had Bea when she was 17. The only glamorous thing about Bea is the French father who left before she was born and lives in Paris. She yearns for la vie Parisienne every moment of her dull existence.
So when Ruby Davies, the leader of her school's most elite clique picks Bea as her new best friend and asks her to go on holiday with them, she's wary but delighted. If nothing else it's two weeks away from her over-protective mother . But when the gang arrive in Spain, Bea is crushed to realise that Ruby and her posse have simply been using her.
Bea wreaks vengeance on her so-called friends, and plans to decamp to Paris to find her father. But when she falls asleep on the train and wakes up in Bilbao, she meets a group of American students who are backpacking around Europe and bonds with them straight away, especially the gorgeous Toph, who helps heal Bea's hurting heart. And though Bea has a shock in store when they finally get to Paris, the 'City of Lovers ' really works it magic on Bea and Toph, who spend a week wandering the sun-dappled streets of Paris, talking, holding hands and falling in love.
When it comes time to go home to confront her Mum about her mysterious father, the new version of Bea is determined that she 'll never go back to her old, boring way of life - she's no longer Nobody's Girl; she belongs to herself and to Toph...But with an ocean between them, will he wait for her?
I think that Sarra Manning is going to end up being one of my favourite authors if the rest of her books are anything like this (or the other book by her that I've read, Adorkable). Nobody's Girl is just a really, really great contemporary with a heroine that I adored and a love interest who was just, well, lovely. I think it's gone straight up to the top of my list of favourite contemps, right with Anna and the French Kiss, Adorkable and Just One Day.
For about the first 100 pages or so, I could have sworn that Bea was actually me. That's the great thing about her. She's so easy to relate to (though I think that I could officially take the crown for 'Most Boring Teenager'.) The only problem is, when I read books like this and Just One Day about girls who think that they're boring and then go off and have awesome adventures - usually in Paris- with a hot foreign boy, and get some gumption and find themselves along the way, it makes me want to go on adventures! That being said, I loved seeing Bea getting to figure out who she is and accept the new angrier, more assertive side to herself that she hadn't really been aware of. There were times where I just thought that she was being immature or silly and I wanted to shake her, but that's all part of realism and it wouldn't be right if she'd just acted all fine and perfect through the whole book.
Can we also just talk about Toph for a bit. Because, let me tell you, you will love him. I still can't get the hang of saying his name right, though (it's supposed to rhyme with 'loaf' because it's short for Christopher, but I watch a lot of Avatar The Last Airbender and there's a girl called Toph in that and it's pronounced like 'scoff'. I didn't really need all of that to explain it. I just thought that I would anyway...) We don't meet him until about 100 odd pages in, and we don't get to see a lot of him until about 150 pages in because at first him and Bea don't really get along all that well, but their romance is slow burning and just perfect. And the epilogue! Jeez, I nearly died from the cute. Seriously.
I like books that are set in Paris a lot, almost as much as I like books set in London (or just England/the UK in general) because Paris is one of the few places outside of the UK that I've actually been, albeit only for about 4 days about 4 years ago, so I can actually sort imagine where they're going - even when they got stuck in a hotel in the red light district near the Moulin Rouge (and yes, after all these years I've finally figured out that moulin is French for windmill. I did French for 3 years, folks.) (s.n - we get lost a lot when we go on holidays. I've accidentally ended up in more red light districts than I ever want to see - thought not the really really skeevy dangerous ones, don't worry.) I just want to go to Paris again so badly after reading this, and walk around and go to all the places that Bea and Toph went to. Maybe next year...
A lot of people (I say a lot...) thought that the beginning was quite slow and that they almost stopped reading, and I was fully prepared to feel the same way, but I actually quite enjoyed it. I think it may have been mostly due to the fact that I could see myself a lot in Bea, but I also think that it was really important to see all of the events that lead up to Bea deciding to leave Malaga. I wanted Ruby and her friends to so badly actually be nice and like Bea, though, so I was kind of upset to find out that they'd just used her so they could get permission to go on holiday without parental supervision. I really liked what Bea did after though. Some might say that it was a bit over the top, but they totally got what they deserved and I wish that I could one day have the balls to do something like that is somebody pretended to be my friend for 3 months, and then treated me like shit when they'd got what they wanted. You go, Bea. Four for you, Bea.
If you like contemporary books and are yet to be introduced to the delight that is Sarra Manning, I think that this is a perfect place to start. I love Adorkable more than I can say, but a lot people don't gel with Jeane (can I just say that I loved seeing Jeane in this, even if it was for a really brief mention!), and Nobody's Girl is a great place to begin. I really loved it, and I think that if you like contemp then you will love it too.