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Beautiful Americans Hardcover – January 8, 2009

27 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Beautiful Americans Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up—When four American teens become exchange students in Paris, they go wild, partying, drinking, and smoking. The host families have no qualms about any of the goings-on as their behavior is, in some cases, more erratic and disturbing than the students they are hosting. There's not a lot of focus on traditional character development in the book, which is the first in a planned trilogy, but things do wrap up for Olivia, the ballet dancer: she is determined to stay, even though her parents want her help at home. Her change isn't entirely believable, and her parents' blithe acceptance of her decision, after being so opposed to it, is even less so. The stories of Alex, the snarky seductress, and Zach, the handsome gay boy, will be resolved in the sequels, it is assumed, and that troubled PJ, who has run away, will be found. A shining example of tawdry melodrama, the story sometimes borders on farce. Readers looking for glamour, histrionics, and mad, groping sex—need look no further.—Catherine Ensley, Latah County Free Library District, Moscow, ID
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In this series debut, four American teens take part in a Parisian study program and attempt to reinvent themselves. Wealthy young socialite Alex is shopping for love and expensive labels abroad. Instead, she is heartbroken when her disgusted mom cuts off her AmEx card. Shy ballet dancer Olivia is offered a job with a prestigious French dance company, but can’t bear the thought of not returning home to her boyfriend and autistic brother. Closeted Zach from the Bible Belt is hoping to finally be himself in Paris, but he is disappointed when he can’t find a boy to return his affection. Most interesting is PJ, a blonde beauty whose hippie parents are arrested for drug possession in the States, leaving her at the mercy of her host parents, a calculating political couple. While the first-person voices are often indistinguishable, and the lovelorn, backstabbing plot is familiar, the exotic locale does add some panache. Recommended for larger libraries with insatiable chick-lit readerships. Grades 8-12. --Jennifer Hubert

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 880L (What's this?)
  • Series: Beautiful Americans
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Razorbill; First Edition edition (January 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595142223
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595142221
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,371,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lucy Silag is the author of the Beautiful Americans novels for young adults (Razorbill/Penguin) and has written for many publications including Salon, Allure, New York magazine, Real Simple Travel, The Iowa Review, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Globe and Mail in Canada, and the Independent on Sunday magazine in the UK. She is a graduate of the Women's Studies program at UC Santa Cruz and holds an MFA in Fiction from the Iowa Writer's Workshop.

Lucy is also the Community and Engagement Manager for the online writing and publishing community Book Country. Contact her at for information about how to become a member of the BC community!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on January 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Gold Star Award Winner!

BEAUTIFUL AMERICANS by Lucy Silag is the story of four very different American teenagers studying abroad for a year in Paris. For PJ, Olivia, Alex and Zack, Paris is a place to run away, reinvent oneself, find love, and discover what it really means to live. Like the Lost Generation of the 1920s, these Americans escape to the City of Lights with the hope that the joie de vivre of the city will rub off on them.

PJ is fleeing from an embarrassing family scandal and hoping that she can leave her past behind in Vermont. This year is her chance to bury her secrets and emerge as a whole new person.

Olivia comes to Paris to train at a prestigious ballet academy. Her meticulously planned out future hinges on a perfect year, but sometimes life doesn't go according to plan.

Alex is a well-coiffed fashionista - thanks to her Manhattan upbringing - looking to find the perfect guy in the most romantic city in the world. However, sometimes even Alex cannot have everything she wants.

Zack is from Memphis, where being gay was never socially acceptable. Now that he is free from his conservative background, he has the same goals as Alex - to find a boyfriend and maybe even fall in love.

The story is told from alternating perspectives among the four main characters, and Silag achieves a delicate balance between their four individual stories while maintaining a cohesive plot. Four extraordinary stories told in a surprisingly believable manner. Getting to know each character from the perceptions of the others adds a compelling layer of reality to the story, revealing the faults of each character that can only be seen through the eyes of others.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mint910 VINE VOICE on January 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Beautiful Americans was an engaging and exciting book. For anyone that has dreamed of studying abroad this book is for you and for anyone that wants to relive their study abroad experience this book is for you too! Told through 4 voices, everyone is bound to identify with one of the characters. I personally saw a little bit of myself in each of the four characters (PJ, Olivia, Alex, and Zack). Also, each of their 4 overlapping story lines fought for the spotlight, I couldn't pick a favorite!

We have PJ, who can't leave a family problem behind and it effects everything she does. Zack who is ready to come out of the closet and meet a cute boy, but his shyness holds him back. And Olivia, the good girl with her life all planned out at home, with a sweet boyfriend waiting for her. I felt I understood where all the characters were coming from aside from Alex, a New York fashionista who gets everything and everyone she wants.

At first I really liked Alex but then time after time she walked all over everyone and did anything she wanted, assuming that just saying sorry every time would make it all better. She was too focused on herself to really notice anyone else being effected by her until after she had hurt them. I'm really hoping that she redeems herself in the second book. I really want to like her! But, one thing I really liked about this book was being able to see each character from their own perspective and then everyone else's. It's really interesting to see what they keep inside compared to what they show the world, as will everyone.

The book takes place during the first semester of a year year long study abroad experience. I personally cannot wait to see where the story picks up and what is going on with all the characters when the story continues!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Martha Frankel on January 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Lucy Silag has created a terrific world, sort of "Gossip Girls go to Paris," and you will want to get on the plane immediately. Her characters are so real and interesting that you and your teen will be fighting over who gets to read it. Actually a wonderful book to read together. Loved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on March 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
When Alex leaves for the fabulous Lycée de Monceau, she knows she's going to be the most popular girl there. The French school offers American high school students a special opportunity if they are especially dedicated learners of French. Alex's (absent) father was French, so she has it in the bag. Going to Paris for her is about meeting boys (American ones, though) and shopping.

Alex first meets PJ in the airport, when PJ is begging at the counter for a ticket to Paris. Astonished, Alex upgrades herself to first class and gives PJ her coach ticket. She can tell right away that the disheveled PJ will not be around long, so there's no point in making friends. Zack, on the other hand, is a sweet Southern boy and is the type of guy Alex wants to know. He becomes the Will to her Grace --- or, maybe more accurately, given Alex's shopping habits, the Will to her Karen.

Olivia arrives in Paris ready for school and for ballet, and is soon accepted at a prestigious ballet school. She becomes friends with both PJ and Alex, but PJ and Alex can't seem to get along.

When everyone meets their host parents and they start classes, the real adventures --- and drama --- begin. Olivia desperately misses her boyfriend, but having a long-distance relationship is hard, especially when there seems to be so many other guys interested in you. Alex can't curb her shopping habit and has a shock when her mother cuts off her credit card. PJ has a huge secret she wants to run away from, but her host parents seem to have one as well. And Zack wants to take the opportunity in Paris to find his first boyfriend.

BEAUTIFUL AMERICANS alternates its narrators, so you can see Paris from four different points of view.
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