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Vidalia in Paris

June 21, 2009

Vidalia in Paris by Sasha Watson
published by Viking Juvenile October 2, 2008

Vidalia in Paris by Sasha Watson, is going to Paris for six weeks. The young artist has been accepted to a prestigious program for gifted American students, and she will be staying with a French family for part of the summer. It offers her a chance to take a break from her needy mother, study art with an expert teacher, and spend time with a “real” family.

After she arrives in France, Vidalia struggles with a challenging art course with a gifted and demanding teacher. She is also attracted to two very different men and falls in love for the first time. And her life quickly becomes more complicated than she’d bargained for.

I enjoyed this book, which is well crafted and offers interesting characters. I particularly liked Vidalia’s character. Her emotions, as she faces new challenges and falls in love for the first time, are well drawn. I could feel the rush of emotion that comes with first love and being intimate for the first time. I also felt the experience of being independent for the first time. Another thing that shines is the author’s eye for detail and skillful use of imagery, as well as her knowledge of art. I thoroughly enjoyed the vivid glimpses of Paris and forays into the art world.

While I enjoyed this novel, it was not one of my favorites among the young adult novels I’ve reviewed. It was suspenseful, with various plot twists, yet the circumstances Vidalia found herself in strained credibility for me. I found myself wishing the writer had relied on the strength of her main character, the beautiful setting, and her compelling story of experiencing freedom, new adventures, and coming of age, instead of taking us through conspiracies and jagged plot twists.

Nevertheless, I recommend Vidalia in Paris, especially for young readers, and I will look for more books by this author.

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