Wednesday, September 8, 2010
The Road to Paris, written by Nikki Grimes. Putnam, Penguin, 2006. $8.50 ages12 and up
"Sometimes I wish I was like my name, thought Paris, somewhere far away, out of reach. Somewhere safe down south or on the other side of the ocean. Instead, she was neither Paris nor Richmond. She felt like a nobody caught in the dark spaces in between. A nobody on her way to nowhere."
Their mother falls into a deep depression when her latest husband leaves and turns to alcohol to assuage her fears and feelings. She often leaves Paris and her brother Malcolm unattended and finally, Family Services steps and sends them into foster care. Life with the Boones is filled with terror and scorn. They are beaten for the bad behavior of the daughter of the house and realize that they must run to protect themselves. They go to their grandmother.
Grandmother has done her child rearing and cannot cope; so, she puts them back in the system. Their worst fears are realized when the siblings are separated. Malcolm has always been Paris' link to ‘home’. Doubt and distrust are her constant companions as she is placed with yet another foster family, the Lincolns. With gentle persistence, her new family makes an impression and Paris begins to believe in goodness once more. She knows this family has nothing in common with her mom or the Boones. She has her own small but cozy bedroom, and no one beats her or locks her in the closet. She even joins the choir and finds solace and wonder in singing. Along the way she has many difficulties to face, including racism, a constant longing for Malcolm’s presence and malice. Ultimately Paris must make a daunting decision. Wrapped in the love of her foster family and brimming with newfound courage, she makes the choice that leads her ‘home’.