Seleste Reviews: Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber

Ferris Bueller meets La Femme Nikita in this funny, action-packed young adult novel.

It’s prom night—and Perry just wants to stick to his own plan and finally play a much anticipated gig with his band in the Big Apple. But when his mother makes him take Gobija Zaksauskas—their quiet, geeky Lithuanian exchange student—to the prom, he never expects that his ordinary high school guy life will soon turn on its head. Perry finds that Gobi is on a mission, and Perry has no other choice but to go along for a reckless ride through Manhattan’s concrete grid with a trained assassin in Dad’s red Jag.

Infused with capers, car chases, heists, hits, henchmen, and even a bear fight, this story mixes romance, comedy, and tragedy in a true teen coming-of-age adventure—and it’s not over until it’s “au revoir.”

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Price: $16.99
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children; 1 edition (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547577389
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547577388
  • Buy Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick at Amazon

So, I walked into the local library, went to the YA section and said, “I’m looking for something different.” Librarians kind of look at you funny when you cannot, after saying that, explain what you normally read. Between what I write, what I read for critique, and what I read for review… there’s a lot. Eventually after I couldn’t come up with a decent explanation, the two lovely women piled my arms with a bunch of books. This was the first one I picked up when I got home. Different? Hell yes.

Good? Surprisingly yes.

Why surprising? For starters, it’s a boy book. That isn’t a bad thing. I’ve just learned that I’m often not drawn into boy books. So when this one started sucking me in from the beginning, I was suspicious. Maybe it wasn’t a boy book after all. But… main character is a boy. Plot revolves around him and his band and his weird (female) foreign exchange student. Nope. Definitely his story.

Then I wondered if it was the chapter headings that were so enticing. The author did this brilliant thing (as in, I wish I’d thought of it) where each chapter is headed with an essay question from a college application. The chapter that follows links back (sometimes subtly, sometimes very clearly) to the question. It quickly became a weird intellectual game for me to examine the question and figure out what the author had written that answered the question.

But the novelty of that would have worn off eventually if the story wasn’t so… fun.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sure the whole “funny” thing in the description really fits this book. There were a couple bits that made me snort a little, but it isn’t a laugh-out-loud kind of book. What it is–and it took me most of the book to come to this conclusion–is a teenage boy’s fantasy. (Not a wet-dream fantasy exactly though it does have minor aspects that could lead to that.) The heroine is an almost picture-perfect example of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. The one who comes into the guy’s life and changes his world in crazy, unexpected ways that lead him to be a better, stronger version of himself.

Add to that the hell of prom, New York at night, guns, mobsters, and car chases, and… what teenage boy wouldn’t (theoretically) want to be there? Hell, I wanted to be there.

Is the book factually accurate? No. For starters, the college application stuff happens (for most people) during their junior year of high school. Someone still waiting on a wait list by the end of senior year has given up on that list because 99% of students have made their final decision by then. (Statistic made up on the spot, but really, it’s a high percentage.) The fact that, at the end, it comes out Perry (the platypus–yes, every time I read his name, I mentally added that bit. Note to authors–don’t name characters Perry for a while unless you want readers to do that.) sent his essay to the wait-list college after the events of the book. So… basically after graduation… three months before the fall semester he’s applying for would start. Not realistic. At all.

I did peek at other reviews when I first started reading Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick (for the record, I hate the title) and one mentioned New York geography and travel times being all screwed up. If you spend a lot of time in NYC, that might bug you. For readers who don’t get to the Big Apple often (if ever), we won’t notice. The closest I came to questioning anything was when Gobi mentioned they should be able to drive somewhere downtown in ten minutes. Judging by the movies I’ve seen that feature NYC, a ten minute drive would be a quicker walk, but whatever. The point of this paragraph is to say that those things never drew me out of the story enough to not enjoy it. (This goes for the above paragraph as well.)

I don’t know. Maybe I have a secret inner teenage boy or something, but I loved this book. Will it appeal to girls? Some, probably. Most? Probably not. But honestly, ninety percent (another made up statistic) of the YA shelves are taken up by books that are essentially teenage girl fantasies of one sort or another. I’m kind of happy to see that there’s a market there for the same thing for boys, and this book is a worthy addition to it.

Buckle up, it’s a fun ride.

***NOTE: Librarians are awesome. Thanks for helping me find something that was exactly what I needed.***

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