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Monday, June 15, 2015

Review: Finding Paris by Joy Preble

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Title: Finding Paris
Author: Joy Preble
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pub. Date: April 21, 2015
Genre: Young Adult
Rec. Age Level: 13+
Pages: 272
More by this author: The Sweet Dead Life

Sisters Leo and Paris Hollings have only ever had each other to rely on. They can't trust their mother, who hops from city to city and from guy to guy, or their gambler stepfather, who's moved them all to Las Vegas. It's just the two of them: Paris, who's always been the dreamer, and Leo, who has a real future in mind—going to Stanford, becoming a doctor, falling in love. But Leo isn't going anywhere right now, except driving around Vegas all night with her sister.

Until Paris ditches Leo at the Heartbreak Hotel Diner, where moments before they had been talking with physics student Max Sullivan. Outside, Leo finds a cryptic note from Paris—a clue. Is it some kind of game? Where is Paris, and why has she disappeared? When Leo reluctantly accepts Max's offer of help, the two find themselves following a string of clues through Vegas and beyond. But the search for the truth is not a straight line. And neither is the path to secrets Leo and Max hold inside.
I'm not one to turn down a road trip book, so when I heard about Joy Preble's Finding Paris, it was immediately added to my to-read list. To be honest, I was expecting it to be a light summer read with a cute romance. Turns out, I was only partially right... 

Yes, there is a romantic plot line within Finding Paris, but I wouldn't call it a light novel. It has a grittiness and an underlying sense of unease that I found really compelling. It was clear that each of the characters had secrets that they were hiding from the other characters, themselves, and even the reader. 

Paris and Leo's life has been far from charmed. There mother is one of those women that feels incomplete without a man in her life. Unfortunately, she has horrible taste in men, and her choices often have a negative impact on her daughters. The sisters are surprisingly well adjusted given the example their mother has set, I think, in large part, because they've had each other to depend on.

Despite their close relationship, I was unsure how I felt about Paris at first. She initially seems flighty and even a bit callous. She basically abandons Leo with a stranger and cryptic instructions to find her. But, as the novel progressed, I understood that Paris's actions, however ill-conceived, were borne out of a sense of love and a need to protect her sister.

The scavenger hunt that Paris sends Leo on reminded me a bit of the events in Morgan Matson's Since You've Been Gone. The clues lead Leo to locations that challenge her and prompt reflection. She's accompanied by Max, a guy she barely knows but feels inexplicably drawn to. While this could have quickly turned into a pretty cliche romance, Preble throws a few loops into the mix to keep things interesting.

Finding Paris wasn't what I expected, but it was better for it. Recommended!


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