Bonjour Girl is a YA book about a French-Chinese girl who goes to New York to study at the Parsons School of Design and become a fashion blogger. Clementine Liu is passionate about diversity in fashion, and wants to highlight non-traditional designs on her blog. She falls in love with a hot photographer, befriends a classmate who designs clothes for people who use wheelchairs, and has to contend with a mean girl bully who sends bitchy tweets about Clementine’s blog.
I love the cover art, and I was initially attracted to this book because I love fashion and I love that the heroine is half-Chinese. I’ve also heard good things about Lafleche’s adult series J’adore.
Bonjour Girl skews to the younger end of the young adult spectrum, and possibly the higher end of the middle grade readership. Stella’s mean girl tweets about Clementine’s blog feel more thirteen year old than nineteen year old, and I was taken aback by how many of Clementine’s friends advised her to take legal action. I was also wondering how an aspiring fashion blogger needed a $5000 scholarship to start her blog — at nineteen and with WordPress and Tumblr around, wouldn’t she have had one already, even if it’s super unpolished? Clementine is also praised by her aunt for having a social conscience because she wants to return the scholarship money after being wealth-shamed by her gay best friend Jake, but honestly Jake was a jerk for doing that. I thought Clementine overreacted, and I especially had hoped her aunt would at least give her a reality check.
Still, I loved the descriptions of the clothes, and the shopping trips Clementine and Jake go on. I also love the glamour and drama around Clementine’s personal life — I think I’d react a lot like Jake and fangirl about Clementine having a mom who’s an opera singer and a grandmother who was a muse for a famous French designer. I also really enjoyed the parts about the various student projects, which all sound really fun, and the misadventure over Jake’s collection.
The story as a whole was a quick, fun read, and I would recommend it to younger readers (pre-teen / early teens). It reminds me somewhat of the Pippa Greene series by Chantel Guertin, which is also about a teenager pursuing her artistic dreams (see my review of Book 1 and Book 2).
Thank you to Dundurn Press for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.