Summary: Clementine Liu is ready to take on New York City and most importantly, the Parsons School of Design. Everything seems to fall into place: meeting her fashionista soulmate and fellow student, Jake, and dreamy fashion photographer, Jonathan. Between schoolwork and exploring the city, Clementine launches her blog, Bonjour Girl, and her originality and flair quickly gives her a big following. With her success, however, comes online abuse and bullying and a classmate who is not what she seems to be. Clementine has to find a way to save her and her friends’ reputations before they go out of style.
My Rating: 3/5 Stars
Isabelle Laflèche’s Bonjour Girl immediately caught my attention for its fashion-focused story, as our main protagonist, Clementine, takes on the Parsons School of Design in New York City. I think fashion-forward protagonists and stories are slowly making a comeback in YA, like Jill Baguchinsky’s Mammoth (which I loved) and Kelly deVos’ Fat Girl on a Plane. Bit of a throwback, but one of my first YA series was Melody Carlson’s On the Runway series, so I was really excited to read a book taking place at one of the world’s top fashion and design schools. NOT TO MENTION THAT CLEMENTINE IS A BLOGGER!
Having New York City and Parsons as our main setting was really fun. I enjoyed seeing Clementine taking on the city and school. Clementine definitely lives a privileged life, coming from Paris and moving to the city with her fashion superstar of a cousin, and it was fun delving into the extravagance that is her life. Before going into more details, I will say that Bonjour Girl does dive into diversity. Clementine is half-Chinese, her best friend is gay (more on Jake’s character, however, later), and Clementine and Jake tackle social injustice in the fashion world. For example, Clementine’s blog focuses on untold and diverse individuals in the industry, and Jake designs clothing for people with disabilities.
As a reader who is a blogger, it’s always fun reading about characters who run blogs. Clementine’s blog was really unique and it was cool seeing her planning stages, like hiring a graphic designer and talking with interviewees. But aside from one detailed instance, we never see Clementine, you know, BLOG. While her blog deserves all the views and comments, thanks to its diversity, it felt so unrealistic that her blog got thousands of views after her first post went live.
But Clementine’s life is definitely far from perfect. Bonjour Girl features intense cyber bullying from one of her competitive classmates, and like most people, Clementine has a hard time dealing with the bullying. However, I do think Clementine could have taken other steps to lessen the problem, and there were times were the plot became too unrealistically dramatic.
The book is told from Clementine’s first person POV, which often includes her internal reflections, from blog planning and her crush on the attractive and up-and-coming fashion photographer Jonathan. These reflections often referred to pop culture, and while I appreciate the incorporation of real-life TV shows and literature, Clementine often pulled us out the plot when she referenced these subjects. Like when she thinks about her OVERUSED IN SO MANY BOOKS favorite Emily Dickinson poem. Regarding the characters, I’ve seen some negative reviews about Jake being a stereotypical gay guy in the fashion world, but I frankly just didn’t like Jake. Yes, he was nice comic relief and support for Clementine at times, but he was just SO LOUD and really didn’t read social situations. I also thought Clementine pointing out his eating habits in relation to his weight felt weird.
Overall, I enjoyed Bonjour Girl for its fashion-focused story and extravagance, but I do not think its plot and characterization were well executed. Bonjour Girl is the first in a trilogy, and I’ll likely pick up the second book to see how the story continues when Clementine takes on another county known for being a major part of the fashion industry…
This review is based on an advance reading copy. By no means did receiving this ARC affect my thoughts or opinions.
Is Bonjour Girl on your TBR? What are some of your favorite YA fashion-inspired reads? Share in the comments!