Monday, March 20, 2023

MMGM-- My Not-So-Great French Escape and Project

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
and #IMWAYR day 

Burke, Cliff. My Not-So-Great French Escape
March 14th 2023 by HarperCollins US
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Rylan and Wilder have been friends for a long time, even though their family's financial background is very different. Wilder's mother invented an app that reminds people to drink water, and is so wealthy now that Wilder attends a private school. She pays for Rylan's tuition so that the two can be together, and has decided to enroll them both in a summer farming program in France. The problem? Rylan and Wilder have recently had a falling out because Wilder made fun of the fact that Rylan's father left his family when Rylan was a baby. In surprising news, Rylan finds out that his father is now living in Paris, and has to decide if he wants to try to see him. Plans are in place, so despite these developments, the boys are soon in the north of France, working for Pierre de Beaulieu. The boys are separated; Rylan doesn't get to stay in a cozy cottage with his friend, but ends up in the stables with Martin, Lia, and Annie. They all have different reasons for being in France; Martin, who is from Germany, wants to run an organic farm one day and hopes to learn a lot about setting one up. There's a lot of work, and Wilder makes no attempt at all to hang out with Rylan. Rylan contacts his father, who schedule doesn't seem to align in a way that will allow a visit, but when Pierre offers the prize of a trip to Paris for Bastille Day, Rylan hopes that he can work something out with his father. He finally hears from him, and the two arrange to meet, so Rylan just needs to make sure his group raises the most money by selling produce from the farm. His group soon is harvesting cherries, milking goats, making ice cream, and trying to find a way to outsellf Wilder's group. Will Rylan be able to make peace with Wilder, reconnect with his father, and (more importantly) learn how to be happy even when people in his life disappoint him?
Strengths: This got off to a great funny start, and had lots of humorous moments along the way, which I always enjoy. Martin is a great character, and his observations about Americans are fairly accurate. Rylan has a great relationship with his mother, and he misses her; there are not a lot of books that talk about children being home sick, but it's a fairly widespread phenomenon, especially now, and it's good for readers to see that you can miss home but work through it to enjoy a new experience. 
Weaknesses: I am looking forward to seein a printed copy because the ending was a bit abrupt. I had hoped to see a bit more about Wilder and Rylan coming to an understanding.
What I really think:There are a lot of books about girls' friendship difficulties, but not as many about boys. Miller's Roll, Jung's The Boys in the Back Row, Tandon's The Way I Say Itand Cisneros' Falling Short some examples of this topic, which I would like to see explored a lot more in middle grade literature. 


  1. What an interesting concept, yes, about boys' relationships but also the travel aspect, too and including a parent who left. Thanks, Karen, a new title for me!

  2. I've seen a few reviews for My Not So Great French Escape and each one has me even more eager to read it. Off to check the library. Happy MMGM

  3. I have been seeing this book around the blogsophere, and I really like the sound of it. I'm going to try to find a copy. Thanks for your review.