Rated Reads

One Paris Summer

by Denise Grover Swank

Rated: Moderate

It’s hard to imagine anyone complaining about having to spend a summer in Paris, but Sophie Brooks is. Her father, who left a year earlier to move to Paris and with whom she has barely spoken, is getting remarried, and he and her mother both want her and her older brother to be there for the wedding — and spend the summer there to have some quality time with him. Sophie is still angry and hurt by her parents’ divorce and by her father’s physical distance and silence. On top of that, she has an important piano audition at the end of the summer and needs to spend the intervening months practicing. But she’s being sent to Paris, and that’s final.

It gets worse when Sophie meets a stepsister who absolutely hates her and discovers there is no real piano to practice in her father’s apartment, though he’d promised he’d have one available. And though her stepmother seems very sweet, it’s tough to face her dad again.

One bright spot is a handsome young man whom Sophie meets twice as she goes around the city. Matthieu is not only good-looking but kind and the two just seem to click. But he turns out to be friends with Sophie’s stepsister, Camille, who is doing all she can to make the summer miserable for her.

Paris has its advantages, like the Eiffel Tower and some amazing pastries, but it’s full of frustration and confusion for Sophie. She has to learn how to rebuild a relationship with her father while navigating new experiences and places. Readers hope that she can find happiness, new opportunities and some balance in her life, which could end up richer than it was before the summer began.

I enjoyed this fun little novel, which is a mostly entertaining summer read for teens. But the plot was too obviously “crafted” by the author, rather than it playing out organically. I felt I could kind of “see the bones” of the story. One character in particular didn’t react at all near the end as I would have thought he would after “getting to know him” throughout the book; his actions were more of a plot device that pushed the story into a way it would “work” than anything else. Overall, it mostly worked but those problems made it just average for me.

Rated: Moderate. There is hardly any swearing; just a few mild words. There is some teen drinking of wine, including some getting drunk. Sexual content includes some kissing scenes and references to some characters having or having had sex without details.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for more than 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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  • One Paris Summer
  • by Denise Grover Swank
  • Rated: Moderate
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Reviewer: