A young girl falls in love and tries to make her relationship work while also designing the perfect shoe.
Nenson (The Anemara Orchid, 2010) tells the story of the uniquely named Francie Lanoo, a teenage girl with two main passions—one for shoes and one for the mysterious new guy in school, Berkeley Mills. After months of ogling him from afar and hiding her feelings, Francie is shocked to discover that Berkeley returns her feelings. So begins a blissful relationship, during which Berkeley encourages Francie to pursue her interest in creating art and designing her ideal shoe. Her interests land Francie in a prestigious yearlong design program in Italy. Despite her reservations, Berkeley assures her that he wants her to go, and so she does. As time passes and temptation mounts, Francie considers the depths of her feelings for Berkeley. When the two go to college, they must decide if they can continue to manage a long-distance relationship. Nenson has drawn a witty, appealing character in Francie, whose fresh voice and quirky interest in shoes make her an appealing lead. The tale sometimes falters with predictable moments and dialogue that tries too hard (how many young boys say things like “I’m trying to ensnare you”?). And the novel is overlong; chunks that just describe Berkeley and Francie’s early bliss could easily be cut. Yet overall, it’s fun, engaging, and surprisingly poignant—rather than ending when Berkeley and Francie get together, the story follows them into adulthood as they grapple with real questions.
Fun, effervescent romantic comedy.