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Well, who doesn’t love a book set in Paris? The Paper Girl of Paris by Jordyn Taylor is written for teens with two alternating storylines and one side line that is also informative. We first meet Alice, an American teen and her emotionally repressed and currently struggling parents. They are travelling to Paris to see the apartment that Alice’s grandmother left Alice in her will. No one knew about the apartment. It is a shock to see the apartment full of everything just as the family left it in a hurry in the midst of World War II. Seeing the apartment has plunged Alice’s mom deeper into a depression, that no one in the family wants to acknowledge or talk about.
In the apartment, Alice finds photos of her Grandmother as a teen, and photos of the sister her Grandmother has never mentioned. Alice is excited to find her Aunt’s war years diary hidden in her bedroom. BUT, she also finds some very disturbing photos showing the sister photographed at parties with Nazi soldiers. So the first story line draws from Alice’s Aunt Adalyn’s the wartime diary. We meet her as a pretty, very well dressed 16 year old. She is a girl with hidden depths of character.
Adalyn’s chapters alternate with those of the American teen, Alice. who is trying to understand how her grandmother, who never said anything about her life during the war, has a sister who was photographed partying with Nazi soldiers.
It takes Alice the entire book to translate the diary written in French and understanding its hidden meanings because Aunt Adalyn did not want the diary to implicate her family. You see, Adalyn’s fury at the Nazi presence in Paris leads her to first rip German posters off the walls of her city and, later, to join a small group of war resisters. She is pretty and brave. Unknown to the German soldiers she meets, she understands German and passes along the information she learns. Her family never knew about her war activities.
Both girls develop sweet romances along the way. Alice’s friend helps her with translation and leads her to the Museum of National Resistance in Paris where Alice can finally start learning the truth. Adalyn, who is 19 towards the end of the war, falls in love with another resister who survives the war.
Adalyn does not survive the war. She is killed by a Nazi after the information she provides leads to the bombing of a Gestapo party.
I am telling you this because there is of course violence in this book set in World War II, enough that younger teens might find too disturbing. Scenes of the capture of Jews in Paris are included, and one of Adalyn’s Jewish friends is sent to a concentration camp where he is murdered. There are also fun teen hijinks, the usual teen angst and misunderstandings and one tender, loving. sex scene between Adalyn and her lover who are adults at the time. Alice’s mother falls deeper into depression through the book until Alice finally finds the words and the strength to search for help to understand her mother.
It is a complex book, informative on many levels, tense, and heartbreaking. It is a tear jerker. I think it suitable for teens in Grade 10 and on because that is when schools in the US and Canada usually teach about WWII. Adults will enjoy it too as a lighter version of the stories of the French Resistance.
It was published by Harper Teen in 2020. You can find it on Harper’s website, in bookstores and in the Amazon links I have added to the comment section. please subscribe. I’m bringing you lots of great books and helpful reviews.