Finding Paris is a page turning, genre-busting treasure in contemporary young adult literature. Author Joy Preble has hit full stride with a story that somehow manages to be part mystery, part road trip adventure, part family drama, part love story and always realistic, colorful and funny.
One of the strengths in Preble’s writing is that the complexity of the characters is revealed not only through their own thoughts, but also through their interactions and observations. This is the goal of any writer yet Preble has become so deft with word choice that she can reveal more in a three page chapter than other authors can in 30 pages.
Leo is a driven girl who doesn’t quite fit into the lifestyle that she’s living in. Raised in California, which she remembers idyllically she and her sister are relocated to the seedy world of Las Vegas with their mother’s new love, Tommy Davis. Leo keeps her eyes forward, focused on school except for when her free-spirited sister, Paris pulls her from her path.
Finding Paris starts in a cafe named Heartbreak Hotel where the girls meet a science nerd named Max Sullivan. When Paris disappears from the restaurant leaving Leo stranded, Max joins Leo on a search to track down Paris that involves roaming Las Vegas, and a road trip and ultimately results in the characters confronting themselves, each other and their world.
Vegas as a setting plays perfectly into Preble’s writing, “East of the strip, a group of girls-brightly colored dresses wrapping their skinny bodies like bandages-pose in front of the Hard Rock Hotel as we cross Paradise, a naked blow-up man doll hoisted over their heads.” The location also ties into the mood of the book, shiny and fun on the surface with more in there than you see at first.
Ending with a sad twist-revelation that occurs in a public struggle, the reader is left with hope, insight and the drive to persevere. “The truth, I think now, is like the ocean-always moving, rolling at us and then rushing away.”
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Pub Date: 4/21/15
Page Count: 272
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
*Thank you Blazer + Bray for providing an advanced reader copy.