Saturday, February 9, 2013

When You Open Your Eyes

Title: When You Open Your Eyes
Author: Celeste Conway
My Rating: 3/5

"Tessa’s head over heels for Lucien, the son of a French diplomat. Sexy, artistic, and daring, he brings out a completely new side of her. With him, Tessa feels beautiful and exotic. So when Tessa’s strict father forbids her to see Lucien, she’s determined to keep their relationship a secret.

But as Tessa gets caught up in Lucien, he becomes increasingly volatile. What she once found alluring about him now feels alarming. Tessa must figure out how far she’ll go for Lucien before she risks losing not just him, but everything she loves."

Set in lush, exotic Buenos Aires, When You Open Your Eyes tells the story of Tessa, the daughter of diplomat parents, and the different, almost unimaginable life she lives. While the plot largely deals with her romantic relationship with Lucien, the author also shows us the very interesting perspective of being an American on foreign land--something the Americans don't get to experience as much anymore.

The good things about this book: 
-the prose. The author writes in such a way that the story flows quietly yet dynamically; the writing has a strong lyrical quality, at times beautifully poetic;
-the details. The tireless descriptions of little things such as a dress, or a hors d'oeuvres, brings the reader to the scene immediately, which enlivens the reading experience

The not-so-good thing:
-the story itself. I know, it's always sad when, after reading a book, I arrive at such a conclusion: the story itself is not good enough. While I'm constantly curious about the different things about Tessa's life, I'm never quite attached to her or any characters. This is a bad thing, because then I don't root for anyone or anything...which makes it hard to be engaged at times. Unfortunately, this one thing alone can make a story really good or not quite so, and unfortunately When You Open Your Eyes is the latter.

In the end, I just want to say how similar this book is to Anna and the French Kiss (see my review here). Now, now, I know some of you may disagree strongly--"the writing style is totally different!" "The story doesn't take place in Paris, jeez!" However, think about this for a minute: both Tessa and Anna are Americans living in a foreign country (Anna in Paris, Tessa in Buenos Aires), both meet cute French boy (Anna and Etienne, Tessa and Lucien--yes, I know, Etienne is technically half English half American), both have family problems (Anna's parents are divorced, Tessa's parents are, oh well), both girls' best friends at home "steal" their "potential love interests" at home, both Etienne and Lucien have dysfunctional families (both of controlling dads), both have a love-hate relationship with art... the similarities go on and on. 

Now, I'm not saying anything, but I just think it's quite surprising how similar these two stories are, if you think about it this way. However, at the same time, they're totally different too. The execution, the ending, the general atmosphere... it makes me think of how different writing styles can change a story so significantly--I think that's something every (aspiring) writer should consider seriously before setting pen to paper (or sitting down at computer).

Vanessa :]

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