Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Summer in Paris, Michelle Ashman Bell



How many of us have had to adapt to a more frugal way of living since the economic "downturn"? (How many of us were living frugally before the downturn and didn't feel much when it happened?) And what does this have to do with Summer in Paris. Not a whole lot. However...

Imagine a wealthy, sixteen year old girl, living in New York City and preparing to audition for a spot at a prestigious ballet academy, suddenly finding herself shipped off to a small town in Idaho because her father has filed for bankruptcy. No cell phone, no dance lessons, no car, no credit card, and (GASP) no shopping mall; what's a girl to do?

Plenty, as it turns out. There's gardening, and collecting eggs from real chickens (SQUAWK!) and laundry, and keeping her younger cousin from getting in trouble, and scrubbing floors, and baking rolls, and laundry, and cleaning toilets, and running errands on a bicycle, and laundry, and falling in love with the town pariah, and laundry, and solving the mystery of random arson attacks around town and...laundry.

LOL! It's kind of a backwards Cinderella story, riches-to-rags with a little teen romance thrown in. CLEAN teenage romance; you won't have to wonder if you can let your daughter read this one.

I thought Kenzie was SUCH a spoiled brat in the beginning. I thought Paris, Idaho was too good for her. Yes, I felt sorry for her because her parents were too cowardly to face the adversity together as a family, but overall I was looking forward to her getting her comeuppance. (I know, I'm so mean.) Hooray for an aunt that doesn't take the "I don't do chores" crap for an answer! Can you tell Aunt Frankie was my favorite character?

I think some teenagers are difficult to get to know at first, and then when you do get to know them, they grow on you. That's Kenzie. There are some marvelous moments when the "aha" light turns on for her in the story, particularly regarding peer pressure. All teens have to deal with the times they have to choose between following their friends and following their own good sense. Kenzie experiences some difficult situations and the consequences that go with them. By the end of the story, she develops enough courage to do what she needs to do even when it isn't popular. She grows from a whiny little snob to a capable and caring young woman.

This book is not one I would normally choose for myself. I like a surprise happy ending and I could predict the end of the plot too easily, but then again this book was meant for younger audiences and I believe younger teen girls would like it. Parents could use the book to discuss peer pressure and other issues like dating, friendship, persistence in personal improvement and academic achievement, and compassion. I've got no problem letting my 12 year old daughter read it.
You can purchase Summer in Paris here.

2 comments:

  1. I absolutely loved this latest book by Michele Ashman Bell. I felt much the same as you, but by the time this coming-of-age book was done, I was solidly in Kenzie's corner!

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  2. Thanks for the review of Summer in Paris and for pointing out some of the elements you liked in the story. The story is fun and like you stated, Cinderella in reverse, yet what Kenzie finds in the end are the true treasures in life. Watch for a sequel!

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