Summer In Paris by Michele Ashman Bell
Publisher: Valor Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Age Recommendation: 12+
Length: Full Length (223 pgs)
Rating: 4 Suns
Reviewed by Fern
Kenzie Williams feels like she has it all; wealth, friends, popularity and talent. But when her father tells her that he has declared bankruptcy, her whole world in New York City turns upside down. Her parents' solution while they sort through their financial and marital problems is to send Kenzie to live with her relatives in Paris . . . Idaho!
Feeling like she's been sentenced to three months in Hickville Prison, Kenzie arrives in Idaho feeling like a square peg, with name brand clothes, in a round, horribly podunk, hole.
Leaving everything she loves behind, Kenzie is forced to get up at the crack of dawn, do chores, and hang out with her cousin's loser friends. She feels like she's about to die until she meets Adam White, the town outcast, whose been accused of killing his best friend and is being blamed for some trouble that's been happening around town.
Not only is Adam the best-looking guy she's ever seen, but he's also the most fascinating guy she's ever met and Kenzie is determined to get to know him and find out his secret. But, the longer she stays in Paris, the more she realizes, Adam isn't the only one keeping secrets.
When fifteen year old Kenzie learns she is being sent to Paris, Idaho she is devastated. Her life is in New York, not in the countryside with nothing to do, no sights to see, and no ballet studios in sight. Even worse, her parents are being forced to claim bankruptcy, and their marriage is on the rocks. Nothing is as it should be, and her idealistic life seems to be coming to an end. After she arrives in her new home away from home, she is determined to survive the summer but not at the risk of blending in. It takes time, her aunt, uncle, and cousins, new friends, and the mysterious boy Adam to change things. As she starts discovering the positive aspects to living in this world she never knew existed, she also begins seeing things in a whole new light.
Summer In Paris takes a familiar premise -- girl moves to small town after family controversy against her wishes -- and adds a few twists and turns. Author Michele Ashman Bell has crafted a book that teenagers will enjoy, using a combination of well developed characters, an interwoven plot with a dash of romance and suspense, and a proverbial and must-have amount of teen angst. Kenzie, for all her faults, is an average, teenage girl who is uncertain of herself but remains driven by her dreams. Her progression from a stubborn, resentful passerby to a willing participant in her future is an entertaining one to witness. I enjoyed the pace in which she begins to view her life in Paris as an adventure versus a detriment, along with the supporting cast who also break free from their shells and reveal so much more about themselves.
The writing is fantastic, as is the dialogue. Aside from a few moments at the start when Kenzie’s attitude becomes grating, I was drawn into the story and sympathized with her on many levels. Ultimately, Summer In Paris is Kenzie’s story and as with any journey, she takes on many different forms -- from angry and heartbroken, to accepting and encouraging. The supporting cast is also superbly written, which gives richness to the work and allows you to experience life in Paris to the fullest extent.
I’d recommend Summer In Paris to children ages 12+, as well as to the adults who monitor their reading material. This is a very sweet story that manages to gain the interest, hold it, and maintain it throughout.