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The Vine

The Tomato Nation advice column addresses your questions on etiquette, grammar, romance, and pet misbehavior. Ask The Readers about books or fashion today!

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The Vine: January 20, 2016

Submitted by on January 20, 2016 – 10:29 AM4 Comments


There are a number of books I read as a younger woman that I wish I could find and read again, but for whatever reason, this one has been bedeviling me of late.

It was almost surely a YA book, from how it feels in my memory, so I would have likely read it in the mid-to-late 70s. The protagonist was an American girl gone to France on a foreign exchange of some sort. I remember that she had a big crush on an older, rather smug French man, and that a younger French fellow (classmate?) had a crush on her. He was fair-skinned with red hair (in opposition to the swarthy older man), and maybe his name was something like Joel? She eventually realized she had feelings for him, too, but unfortunately they went to the beach one day and he drowned in the ocean. (Yeah, a real feel-good story.) The older man tried to downplay the devastation of this, because they were just kids, but someone said — I remember this quote clearly: "They were young, yes, but they loved truly."

The only other detail I remember is that at one point the girl went shopping for shampoo and couldn't find any familiar brands, so she bought a bottle of very bright green shampoo. No idea why THAT is stuck in my head when the title of the book and the author are long gone.

Okay, Tomato Nation — go.


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  • Katie says:

    Is it Please Don't Go by Peggy Woodford? That seems to fit the bill. The author's website says it was originally published in 1972.

  • Allie says:

    I thought maybe And Both Were Young or another one of the early books but Madeleine L'Engle, but the beach thing suggests otherwise. Or maybe not? It's been a while.

  • Andrea says:

    I had also thought of And Both Were Young. There's definitely not a beach scene, but in either that one or The Small Rain there is a scene where the young woman's friend sleepwalks out a window, so there is definitely a tragic death, but no drownings.

  • lizgwiz says:

    Letter writer here, and it is absolutely "Please Don't Go." Yay! Gonna download it to my Kindle immediately. Thank you so much!

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