________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 11. . . .November 17, 2017


Maybe in Paris.

Rebecca Christiansen.
New York, NY: Sky Pony Express (Distributed in Canada by Thomas Allen & Son), 2017.
211 pp., hardcover & Ebook, $25.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-5107-0880-8 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-5107-0882-2 (Ebook).

Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.

Review by Ruth McMahon.

*** /4



While Mom meets with Dr. Pearson, I wander the house all day, wringing my hands. When she gets home, she slams the front door and shouts, "Dr. Pearson gives the green light!" before kicking off her shoes and stomping to the kitchen.

I do a happy dance in my room, and once I'm calm, I spend the night stepping up my plane ticket research game.

Levi comes home three days later, but his plan to leave for Paris exactly two days after returning home is dashed.

Mom insists that we spend two weeks at home before leaving. On Levi's first night back, I sit with him in his room and he complains, "Two weeks of dealing with Mom. Yay, exactly what I wanted."

"She's just worried about you," I tell him.

He grunts and plays with the hospital wristband he is still wearing.

"At least we have Josh on our side, I say. "He's a lot more rational than Mom."

"Because he is not our dad," Levi says.

"Come on. He is our dad by this point."

"He isn't our blood."

Every couple of years we have this argument. It's always the same.


Keira Braidwood is obsessed with France; with the attractive French male exchange student, to Marie Antoinette, to the Louvre to French pastry. She has been saving her money from her part-time job to travel to Paris to see it for herself.

      Her brother, who has recently attempted suicide and is facing a diagnosis of autism, becomes, against her mother's better judgement, Keira's travel companion in Maybe in Paris. In addition to Levi facing his mental health issues, Keira is also dealing with undiagnosed anxiety. One senses this travel adventure is doomed from the beginning, and Keira's infatuation with a Scottish rocker is the catalyst for the crisis.

      With the story being told in Keira's voice, readers witness her conflict with her mother, her frustration and abiding affection for her brother and appreciation for her stepfather's commitment to her family. She describes the challenges of being the sibling of someone with a severe disability while she struggles with her own insecurities, her desires to fulfill her dreams of being a Parisian tourist, and her teenaged infatuation with boys. As the mother of two teenaged daughters (one of whom is currently hosting an exchange student from France), I found Keira's voice to be completely authentic, and author Christiansen does not back away from the language and emotion that accompanies this stage of life.

      As Maybe in Paris is a first person narrative, this is naturally a biased representation of the events in, and leading up to, the visit to Paris. Yet, it is still hard to understand how one would have the money from a part-time job to spend on a Paris vacation for two, especially staying in a hotel when Levi refuses to stay at a hostel. But as a backdrop for the plot and character development, the setting works, and the siblings activities in France are standard tourist fare.

      I found Maybe in Paris to be an engaging story with just enough adventure, romance and family dynamics to keep readers turning the pages.


Ruth McMahon is a professional librarian working in a high school library in Lethbridge, AB.

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