Sunday, April 11, 2010

33. Summer in Paris by Michele Ashman Bell

I listened to a book by Bell a few months ago and enjoyed it even though the quality of the recording was quite poor.  It was an romance, I believe written for an LDS audience even though there is no mention of the church in the book at all.  I know I've mentioned that I don't really care for romances, but the LDS type are different.  They usually include humor, no sex and there is more to the story than just the romance.  Summer in Paris is no exception other than it was written for a young adult audience.  Just to keep your feet on the ground, we are not talking about Paris, France; instead, the story is set in Paris, Idaho.  Apparently there is a Paris in Idaho and it sounds like an idyllic but bucolic location.  However, 15-year-old Kenzie is a New York City girl through and through and would much rather be in France than Idaho.  But her father has suffered a devastating financial blow and she is shipped to Idaho to spend the summer with relatives.  Kenzie is an interesting character.  In some ways, she is incredibly shallow and spoiled; but she is a dedicated, hard-working dancer and loves her mother and father.  I like how Bell treats the family dynamics which changed forever when 8-year-old Benjamin passed away seven years earlier.  The loss totally changed how Kenzie's parents related to each other and their daughter.  That change sets up the rest of the story and makes it much more than just a teen romance.  I found the romance to be a little unbelievable and too pat; but still sweet.  Bell certainly created a compelling character in Adam.  Kenzie's transformation was predictable, but she is a fun, likeable character who you root for even when she is being whiny or bratty.  I especially liked her Aunt Frankie, a no-nonsense woman who shows Kenzie there is more to life than shopping.  Kenzie finds that teenagers in Idaho are quite similar to those in New York; some are shallow but others have more depth when you take the time to know them.  There is also a mystery in the story.  While you pretty much know who didn't set the fires, it was a surprise to learn the truth.  All in all, this is a heartwarming tale about finding yourself, friendship, and family ties, and learning about what's really important in life. 
Rating:  4
Disclaimer: This book was furnished to me free of charge. The preceding review is strictly my own opinion.

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