The Paper Girl of Paris

HarperTeen. May 2020. 368p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062936622.
Gr 8 Up–In this debut historical novel, Alice and her family are introduced to the Nazi invasion of France through their own family history. When Alice’s beloved grandmother passes away, she inherits an apartment in Paris that has been under lock and key since the 1940s. Alice and her family head to Paris to settle her grandmother’s estate, though the trip is anything but relaxing. Alice’s mother is taking the loss very hard and withdrawing into herself. Alice’s father is bending over backward to keep everything cheerful, though Alice worries that her mother may need professional help to bounce back. Meanwhile, Alice has discovered a journal written by her great aunt Adalyn, a woman her grandmother never spoke about. Adalyn begins her journal in 1940 and details the changes to her beloved city and her escalating involvement in aiding French Resistance efforts. Armed with her laptop and strong coffee, Alice sets up a work station for herself at a local coffee shop and attempts to figure out what became of Adalyn by translating her great aunt’s journal from French. There she meets Paul, who joins her in conducting her family research and blossoms into a love interest. Told from both Alice and Adalyn’s perspectives, the story moves back and forth in time detailing Alice’s research in the present and Adalyn’s acts of espionage in the past. When Alice’s father presents the idea to sell her grandmother’s apartment, she races to discover whether Adalyn was a Nazi sympathizer, not realizing that she may be risking her mother’s health and their relationship by further pursuing this mystery.
VERDICT A gripping exploration of history and mental health set in the City of Lights from an outstanding new author; highly recommended for most collections.

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