Mar 29, 2010

Summer in Paris by Michele Ashman Bell

As an author, it is amazing to me that I can associate with, and learn from, established authors such as Michele Ashman Bell.  She has long been one of my favorite authors, so to think that we now have the same publisher, is almost surreal.  I jumped at the chance to review her new nationally published YA novel, Summer in Paris, and my daughters were even more excited.

About the author:

In Michele's own words:

"As a young girl I was a devoted journal keeper. I would express my most personal thoughts and feelings in my journal in a way I could never express them verbally. Coupled with my great love for reading it only seemed natural to become a writer.

During the course of having and raising my children, as a beginning writer, I spent any free time I had writing and learning the craft. I attended workshops and conferences, joined critique groups (I have the scars to prove it) and sent many of my stories and novels off to magazines and publisher, only to receive rejection after rejection. I came close a few times, but something wasn't quite right.

Still to this day I wonder why I didn't give up. You'd think after ten years of rejections I'd finally get the message. Actually I know why I kept writing, I couldn't not write. It's in my blood. When I get cut, ink comes out. There's something so wonderful and fulfilling about the creative process of developing characters and storylines and pouring your heart out on paper that can't be matched by anything else. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to write. And I want to encourage anyone who has the desire to write to never give up on their dream. If you want it bad enough and are willing to work hard enough, you will become published. I believe that with all my heart because that's exactly how it worked for me.

I grew up in St. George, Utah, where a lot of my family still lives, but now reside with my husband and family in the Salt Lake City area. My favorite thing to do is support my kids in their many interests. Between basketball, ballet and piano lessons we squeeze a lot into a week, but I wouldn't have it any other way."

About the book:
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.
My opinion:

I really enjoyed Summer in Paris.  It's a fun story for young girls to read.  They will identify with the angst that Kenzie feels when life as she knew it is pulled out from under her and she's forced to spend the summer on a farm in Idaho. 

Michele is a master at characterization.  As a reader, I experienced Kenzie's emotions throughout the story, and felt like I was growing and learning right alongside her.  The pacing is perfect.  Although the storyline was somewhat predictable, Kenzie's change of heart did not happen overnight.

The issues Kenzie faces are typical of those in the lives of our children today.  I highly recommend Summer in Paris.  It includes a little of everything--comedy, drama, and romance.  It is a refreshing change from the dark YA literature that seems to be increasingly popular. Now that I've finished reading it, my daughters can't wait to get their hands on it.  And as a mother, it's nice to know there are clean uplifting reads to offer my children.


L.T. Elliot said...

I've been a long-time fan of Michelle's books and I'm really looking forward to reading this one. She's a powerful writer!

Anonymous said...

I have this one on my desk, just waiting for me to read it. Soon. I hope. I adore Michele. She has been incredibly helpful and inspiring to me each time we've met. I look forward to reading her latest!

Jen said...

Hello, I found your blog from Tristi's, and I'm reviewing your book later in the month. Nice to virtually "meet" you!

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