Publication Date: April 25, 2023
I sought out My Not-So-Great French Escape by Cliff Burke on NetGalley because of the French setting. I'm always hoping books with some connection to France will throw in some French phrases that I actually understand, which will do my ego a world of good. There is, indeed, a little of that here. But the book is a very enjoyable read even for those not interested in the language.This is another story that deals with friends drifting apart. But instead of happening in an elementary or middle school, it happens on a French organic farm that provides an opportunity for students from foreign countries to stay for a few weeks. The idea is that the students will learn about organic farming and improve their French. It provides a new spin to the friend situation that, I am told, really is a major concern for kids.
Rylan, who appears to be around 12, accompanies a newly rich friend who he isn't that tight with anymore, to France. No sooner are they there, than the friend cliques up with a group with a bit of a superiority complex, leaving Rylan to make his own connections with the kids who are left. Rylan has some believably low moments over this but rises to the occasion.
A sub-plot involving Rylan's estranged father is resolved in an interesting way. The friends Rylan makes are far more interesting than the ones his old buddy ends up with. There is French food. And Pierre, the organic farmer, is a charmer.
There is plenty here to like.