A young woman and young man fall in love and lose each in Paris. Allyson is on a student tour through Europe trying hard to hide her lack of enthusiasm and enjoyment in the trip. While her fellow students hit the pubs after visiting the sites each day, she convinces her more adventurous best friend Melanie to play by the rules most of the time by returning to the hotel to watch American movies. Melanie or 'Mel' as she has recreated herself to be has convinced Allyson to cut her long dark hair into a sleek bob with bangs. This new version of friends will be 'smart and pretty', which is more acceptable for college in the fall. Mel has chosen a more daring and revealing look. Allyson credits Mel 2.0 in attracting attention they receive until a chance meeting with an actor playing Sebastian in Shakespeare's Twelve Night. Willem is Dutch, speaks French and English and has been performing throughout Europe with an actor's troupe, that he fell into by chance. He has been letting the wind carry him where it blows until Allyson doesn't follow the typical steps he expects. When he singles her out at the end of the live park performance, she catches the coin as all the girls do, but is not waiting for him at stage exit. The next morning as he catches the early train she is on the same train. Allyson and Melanie are nearing the end of their tour having said their goodbyes that morning to the others on the tour. They will be staying with Melanie's family member for three more days before flying home to America. As Melanie is sleeping off a hangover, Allyson is in the dining car ending up with a strange breakfast which includes salt and vinegar chips, her new addiction. As Willem invites her to join him he takes notice of her items and notes them as American choices. As they joke and converse, Allyson is surprised by the ease of their flirting. Willem has taken to calling Allyson 'Lulu', never actually asking her real name after an actress she resembles. Melanie joins them choosing the seat next to Willem, and the topic of Paris comes up. The girls' tour had to detour to another city as workers' strikes prevent travel into Paris as intended. Willem offers to take Allyson to Paris for the day on his dime. It is a leap unlike Allyson, but if she is now 'Lulu'? As she departs from her friend and is shortly separated from Willem she questions her choice at every step. Instead of withholding her doubts and insecurities, she is outspoken with Willem, and they make light of her suspicions. Having a been the typical playboy he knows there is truth to her intuitions, but he surprises himself in the things he says and does in her presence. As they make their way through unknown sections of Paris, having to stow her bulky luggage at a previous girlfriend's workplace, Allyson is challenged to step from her comfort zone and make trusting and courageous decisions. At the end of the day, both have napped in a park, and escaped a near miss with a gang of skinheads. Willem chooses dinner so she can dry her sweater and dress the cut on her neck. Allyson is angry with him for making choices that are hers and deciding to end their adventure early. A unspoken resolution is given as he he takes off her heavy watch and replaces to his wrist as he did earlier. They search for a place to stay for the night, finding shelter in an artist studio. Their first kiss turns into their first night together. Their earlier conversation regarding having fallen in love being similar to being stained is referenced when he and she both lick their thumbs and attempt to wipe away the birthmark usually hidden under her watch. The morning breaks and Willem is gone. The story follows Allyson on her panic and heartbreaking out of the city. It continues to follow her to school that fall as she trudges and fails through her courses, until she discovers her own path with her enrollment into electives and expansion from one estranged best friend to a new group of friends. The new group of friends reenergize her in search of Willem. After each search leads to another, their love story begins where another did. Allyson finds herself at Willem's childhood home introducing herself as Allyson to Willem for the first time. In the same manner Willem's mother did to his father after a chance meeting.
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Best part of story, including ending:
The main character is honest with her fears and feelings and that is felt while reading.
Best scene in story:
The scene when Allyson and Willem are escaping from the skinheads and have squeezed into a gap between two gates. They are in close proximity to one another, but are feeling opposite of one another. Allyson is exhilarated and Willem ia frightened for her. It demonstrates how each has changed the other in one day.
Opinion about the main character:
I dislike Allyson's distraction and ambivalence towards her own education.