These last two years I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Paris four times, and it truly is one of the most amazing cities in the world. There is something so elegant and distinguished about Paris and it’s architecture and presence, so it’s no wonder it has become the backdrop for several popular YA books over the last few years.
I actually started writing this post back in 2017 and it has remained in my drafts folder this whole time- I have 32 unpublished posts at the point, sigh- so I figured it was time to release this into the wild.
I’ll be returning to France this summer so maybe it is finally time to get reading these…
This list is definitely one for lovers of YA contemporary- there are unfortunately no fantasy or sci-fi books in this list, but there is one dystopian and one paranormal romance book, so stay tuned for them!
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.
But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?
The original- the classic- the real OG. Anna and the French Kiss shot Stephanie Perkins to the top of the YA contemporary author pyramid, and I’ve been meaning to read it forever.
More recently I’ve watched some very interesting book tube videos about this book, and none of the reviewers have liked it very much. It’s always very interesting to me when a book comes across as very well received when it is first published but gets sourer reviews over time- sometimes this suggests readers have matured and changed their minds and sometimes it can show that the publishers issued a very strong publicity campaign when the book was first released and the reaction only seemed positive because you are seeing the book EVERYWHERE, and maybe the bad reviews weren’t as public as the influencer posts.
Either way if I get a chance I still will give this one a shot, it deserves it after sitting for three years in my TBR pile.
Maybe in Paris by Rebecca Christiansen
Keira Braidwood lands in Paris with her autistic brother, Levi, and high hopes. Levi has just survived a suicide attempt and months in the psych ward—he’s ready for a dose of the wider world. Unlike their helicopter mom and the doctors who hover over Levi, Keira doesn’t think Levi’s certifiable. He’s just . . . quirky. Always has been.
Those quirks quickly begin to spoil the trip. Keira wants to traipse all over Europe; Levi barely wants to leave their grubby hotel room. She wants to dine on the world’s cuisine; he only wants fast food. Levi is one giant temper tantrum, and Keira’s ready to pull out her own hair.
She finally finds the adventure she craves in Gable, a hot Scottish bass player, but while Keira flirts in the Paris Catacombs, Levi’s mental health breaks. He disappears from their hotel room and Keira realizes, too late, that her brother is sicker than she was willing to believe. To bring him home safe, Keira must tear down the wall that Levi’s sickness and her own guilt have built between them.
Romancing the Dark in the City of Light by Ann Jacobus
A troubled teen, living in Paris, is torn between two boys, one of whom encourages her to embrace life, while the other—dark, dangerous, and attractive—urges her to embrace her fatal flaws.
Haunting and beautifully written, with a sharp and distinctive voice that could belong only to this character, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unforgettable young adult novel.
Summer Barnes just moved to Paris to repeat her senior year of high school. After being kicked out of four boarding schools, she has to get on track or she risks losing her hefty inheritance. Summer is convinced that meeting the right guy will solve everything. She meets two. Moony, a classmate, is recovering against all odds from a serious car accident, and he encourages Summer to embrace life despite how hard it can be to make it through even one day. But when Summer meets Kurt, a hot, mysterious older man who she just can’t shake, he leads her through the creepy underbelly of the city-and way out of her depth.
When Summer’s behavior manages to alienate everyone, even Moony, she’s forced to decide if a life so difficult is worth living. With an ending that’ll surprise even the most seasoned reader, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unputdownable and utterly compelling novel.
Another book I’ve had in my TBR forever. Sigh. I have to admit this was a total cover buy for me, I adore sunset gradient covers and this one photographs so well… I’m not so sure if I’ll ever get around to reading it but it definitely sounds like it offers a Parisian experience these other books lack- what with the ‘creepy underbelly of the city’ and is maybe a less traditional YA romance book.
Nobody’s Girl by Sarra Manning
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?
This is the only book on the list that I have actually read- and loved by the way. I was always a Sarra Manning fan, and this book was one of my favorites back when I was 14. I recently had the chance to meet and talk to Sarra and she was just as enigmatic as I imagined she’d be!
I honestly can’t tell you if this book has aged well because it’s been so long, and I don’t even have my original copy of this one so I can’t reread it either- opps. I definitely had a lot of fun back when I was younger rereading this over and over so if you are in the market for a Paris adventure then this is one I do recommend.
Rook by Sharon Cameron
History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?
Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.
As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.
The only dystopian on our list, Rook has a rather unique premise of an arranged marriage in a dystopian future with a sort of Robin Hood-esque character woven in. Unfortunately it wasn’t received terribly well, many people have even stated that the choice of setting was mostly unused in the actual plot which is unfortunate, and the general consensus is that the pacing was too slow.
Either way as our only non-contemporary it might be worth a read!
Die for Me (Revenants #1) by Amy Plum
In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.
When Kate Mercier’s parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life–and memories–behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.
Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate’s guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he’s a revenant–an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again
The supernatural romance book- is that what we call this genre? Or is it paranormal romance?- appropriately titled Die for Me. This is the first in a trilogy which was apparently popular enough to warrant novellas and a book documenting the world-building behind the series. It was pretty well received, but unfortunately it seems it might be another book which uses Paris as a backdrop without doing much to add to the general ambience of the book.
So thats all! Are there any other Parisian themed YA books I should know about? Or maybe just a YA which has a few scenes set in Paris? I, for one, am very excited to hear that some of Cassandra Clare’s upcoming books will be set in Paris, albeit in the 1900s- we need more Parisian fantasy books!
(Pictured, the Notre Dame on my last visit, it’s so beautiful with the roses in bloom!)