Author: Denise Grover Swank
Source: Publisher Provided
Publication Date: 2016
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Genre: Fiction; Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Rating: 4 out of 5
REVIEW | Sophie Brooks is annoyed. Her summer has been hijacked by the agreement between her mother and father. Now that they’re divorced and living on separate continents, Sophie and her brother Eric are shipped off to Paris for the summer. The purpose of this trip is to inspire bonding with their father (who walked out on them the year before) and to see him marry his fiancée. As a part of the package deal, Sophie must deal with an evil new stepsister determined to undermine her as well as the heartbreak of a first love.
Contemporary novels are my happy place. Contemporary YA novels are even better (because I can read and love them for what they are), and when you throw in an armchair adventure, I’m a goner. This novel introduced me to a new author in Denise and with it, a host of complex and interesting characters. Among them is Sophie (whose eyes we read the story through in first person prose), Eric (Sophie’s slightly annoying – in a loveable way, elder brother), Camille (the pseudo evil stepsister) and Mathias (the cute French boy). As the lives of these characters (and those of others) collide, trouble is bound to follow, and yes, it does.
The story is overall, lighthearted and pleasant, but it does deal in some issues that are, nonetheless, tough to read about. One of which being the ill treatment of Sophie by her stepsister and even her brother. As the story began, I admired how protective of Sophie Eric was. But as he tries to fit into the hip world Camille is a part of, he does (in smaller ways than she) succumb to peer pressure. Because of this, I was left with a bad taste a time or two when experiencing Eric keeping silent when he should have silenced the torment without hesitation. Some readers may find this book difficult to read without wanting to scream at the characters, and believe me, I experienced this.
Sophie is far from perfect, and she was even on my bad side a time or two (because of her choices or attitude), but she didn’t deserve what was thrown at her. The evil stepsister trope is fully laid out and explored in this narrative which keeps us annoyed at the villain of the story while rooting for Sophie. Sophie reexamining her passion and what she wants makes this a coming of age story in more ways than one. Beyond this, the exploration of Paris is magical. I loved the walks through the Parisian streets as experienced through Sophie’s eyes or the climb of the iconic Eiffel Tower. Everything was written as if a sprinkle of magical stardust was added to the story for that final “finishing touch” to complete it.
There’s some swoony romance and emotional healing to complete what wound up being a wonderful story. Needless to say, I’d revisit this Paris anytime.
Content: there are several instances of “crude” language – p*ssed being a favorite, throughout the novel though nothing graphic. Innuendo is present for a good portion of the novel including talk of having sex, and an instance when a boy tries to make out with a girl against her will.
Synopsis: Most teens dream of visiting the City of Lights, but it feels more like a nightmare for Sophie Brooks. She and her brother are sent to Paris to spend the summer with their father, who left home a year ago without any explanation. As if his sudden abandonment weren’t betrayal enough, he’s about to remarry, and they’re expected to play nice with his soon-to-be wife and stepdaughter. The stepdaughter, Camille, agrees to show them around the city, but she makes it clear that she will do everything in her power to make Sophie miserable.
Sophie could deal with all the pain and humiliation if only she could practice piano. Her dream is to become a pianist, and she was supposed to spend the summer preparing for a scholarship competition. Even though her father moved to Paris to pursue his own dream, he clearly doesn’t support hers. His promise to provide her with a piano goes unfulfilled.
Still, no one is immune to Paris’s charm. After a few encounters with a gorgeous French boy, Sophie finds herself warming to the city, particularly when she discovers that he can help her practice piano. There’s just one hitch—he’s a friend of Camille’s, and Camille hates Sophie. While the summer Sophie dreaded promises to become best summer of her life, one person could ruin it all. – Goodreads
Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes. Apologies to the publisher and author for the delay in publishing this review.
Review text is © Rissi JC and first appeared on Finding Wonderland (Dreaming Under the Same Moon), RissiWrites.com