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One Paris Summer

Review

One Paris Summer

What would you do if you were sent to live in Paris for one summer? One whole summer of history, architecture and amazing food? Any other teenager would be overjoyed, but for Sophie Brooks, there is a catch to her Paris adventure: she has to live with her father, who left her family one year earlier and his new wife and stepdaughter, Camille. Against her will, Sophie jets off to Paris with no inclination as to who this new wife is, or even who her father has become. Over the course of the summer, Sophie navigates the cobbled streets of Paris while learning to forgive her father and growing to understand her new stepmother, her brother and even Camille. And for the first time, she meets a boy who understands her love for the piano like no one ever has. But as her time in Paris ticks away, Sophie realizes that not everything can last, even in the city of love.
 
“Atmosphere, mood, setting, addictive writing...this story had it all….ONE PARIS SUMMER was entertaining, oftentimes funny and most of the time filled with heart.”
 
For New York Times bestselling author Denise Grover Swank’s first foray into the young adult contemporary genre, I was pleasantly surprised. She captured the feelings of a young girl being thrust into a new city, culture and continent perfectly. I like to assume that I would adapt wonderfully to a Parisian lifestyle and that I would be speaking French and scoffing at tourists within a week. The truth is, though, I would be floundering just as Sophie was, getting lost on the Metro and not knowing how to order food. Because of this, I appreciated that Sophie was not immediately a savant of Parisian culture, but that we got to grow along with her and learn as she did. I also appreciated Sophie’s passion for the piano. I read too often in YA where the female or male main character’s passion is, unfortunately, getting or keeping a boyfriend or girlfriend. While Sophie does utter “I want a boyfriend” as her deepest wish while standing on Point Zero, her main passion never strays from the ivory keys. When she does meet a boy, they bond over music and the piano, the love of it and the pain it can bring and eke out of you. When Sophie’s new stepmother gets her an electric keyboard --- a nice gesture but not quite the same feel as a real piano --- this new boy invites her to his apartment. Not to shack up, but to give her a place where she can practice for hours on a real grand piano. I loved that!
 
This story, while not the most original, had so many great moments and was so addicting. The writing had surprisingly zero fluff, so I flew through ONE PARIS SUMMER in just two or three sittings. It was the perfect contemporary read to start off my summer. Atmosphere, mood, setting, addictive writing...this story had it all, but the logistics were a bit off.
 
Repetition was a problem. Every couple pages or so in the beginning, Sophie would think that maybe her summer would not be so bad after all, and then a paragraph later she would say her life was ruined because of a small thing that happened. Rinse and repeat for the first half of the book. I also did not like Camille, the evil stepsister. She was not a well-written villain. Her main points of contention relied on cliches and tropes --- stealing Sophie’s crush and telling all of her friends not to talk to Sophie. She was petty instead of cunning, Dolores Umbridge instead of Severus Snape.
 
All in all, ONE PARIS SUMMER was entertaining, oftentimes funny and most of the time filled with heart. Sophie’s growth from the beginning of the story to its close is admirable. She goes from closed-off and emotionally wounded to open, outgoing and, most importantly, able to forgive. I love stories like this one. They make me feel warm inside, like I ate a just-out-of-the-oven chocolate croissant. I’ll be coming back to ONE PARIS SUMMER more than once and hopefully going to Paris so I can experience it for myself. I will flounder and get lost on the Metro, but hopefully, like Sophie, I will be better because of it.
 
ONE PARIS SUMMER is perfect for fans of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins and 13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES by Maureen Johnson.

Reviewed by Bryn D., Teen Board Member on June 23, 2016

One Paris Summer
by Denise Grover Swank

  • Publication Date: June 7, 2016
  • Genres: Family Life, Fiction, Social Issues
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Blink
  • ISBN-10: 0310755166
  • ISBN-13: 9780310755166