Title: The Paper Girl of Paris
Author: Jordyn Taylor
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Published: May 26th, 2020 (HarperTeen)
Sixteen-year-old Alice is spending the summer in Paris, but she isn’t there for pastries and walks along the Seine. When her grandmother passed away two months ago, she left Alice an apartment in France that no one knew existed. An apartment that has been locked for more than seventy years.
Alice is determined to find out why the apartment was abandoned and why her grandmother never once mentioned the family she left behind when she moved to America after World War II. With the help of Paul, a charming Parisian student, she sets out to uncover the truth. However, the more time she spends digging through the mysteries of the past, the more she realizes there are secrets in the present that her family is still refusing to talk about.
Sixteen-year-old Adalyn doesn’t recognize Paris anymore. Everywhere she looks, there are Nazis, and every day brings a new horror of life under the Occupation. When she meets Luc, the dashing and enigmatic leader of a resistance group, Adalyn feels she finally has a chance to fight back. But keeping up the appearance of being a much-admired socialite while working to undermine the Nazis is more complicated than she could have imagined. As the war goes on, Adalyn finds herself having to make more and more compromises—to her safety, to her reputation, and to her relationships with the people she loves the most.
Thank you to the publisher, HarperTeen, and Edelweiss for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Sixteen year old Alice Prewitt has just inherited an apartment in Paris from her grandmother that no one in the family has ever heard about before. She finds an apartment perfectly preserved in time, untouched since the years of World War II, but more interesting are some old photos and the diary of her great-aunt Adalyn, whom no one knew existed, which sets her off on a quest to uncover long buried family secrets.
The Paper Girl of Paris is narrated in both present and past. On one hand, we follow Alice as she deciphers Adalyn’s diary and retraces her life in Nazi occupied France and on the other, we see the events through Adalyn’s own eyes as she gets involved with the Resistance and takes on dangerous missions to fight against the Nazis, all the while struggling with keeping things a secret from her parents and especially her sister. I loved how immersive the storytelling was and the descriptions of France in the 1940s and the French Resistance make you feel like you’re really there. This particular side of WWII is one I have only begun to explore in historical fiction, and the author did a fantastic job giving us a deeper understanding of the state of things in Paris during this time and how ordinary people rose up to fight in their own ways.
However, I can’t really say the same for the present day chapters. Although Alice’s POVs were nice enough to read, I feel that diary entries apart, this story could have been told to far better effect through Adalyn’s POV alone as that is where the real excitement is. Besides, while Alice is not an uninteresting character, I just found it hard to connect to her present day struggles in contrast to the sufferings of Occupied France. The portrayal of mental health was also quite frustrating. Though I am hardly any kind of expert, I thought the subject was taken too lightly and ended up being a hanging plot point that didn’t really ever tie into the main story – not to mention, we never do learn exactly what issues Alice’s mom had with her mother.
I’ve been reading a lot of World War II stories lately and they’re always hard to get through due to how heavy the content is, but I have to say that this was the easiest of the lot. The narration is somewhat balanced by the air of mystery and adventure still hanging over the entire tale and this would probably be a good choice for someone starting out on this particular time period in historical fiction or even younger YA readers. This is the first time I’ve come across a historical fiction narrated from a present day POV and I would definitely recommend this unique, beautifully written, fast-paced novel that can easily be read in one sitting!
The Paper Girl of Paris releases on May 26th, 2020.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!