Friday, June 24, 2016

Book Review: The Road to Paris

The Road to Paris. Nikki Grimes. 2006. 153 pages. [Source: Bought]

From the prologue: Ask Paris if a phone call can be deadly. She'll tell you. She learned the truth of it last night.

From chapter one: The trouble with running away is you know what you're leaving behind, but not what's waiting up ahead. Paris Richmond learned that a year ago when she and her brother Malcolm ran away from a foster home in Queens.

Premise/plot: Malcolm and Paris have spent most of their lives in foster care. Their mother is living, but, unable and/or unwilling to keep them herself. Same with their grandmother. Some homes are okay, but, not really HOME. When they run away, they run to their grandmother. Why did they run in the first place? Child abuse. The grandmother ended up separating them. Malcolm went to a children's home, Paris went to another foster home. But it was the one foster home that felt like HOME. It was also the home where Paris met Jesus.

My thoughts: I've read this one three times now. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it. I adore Paris' foster family. I love seeing Paris bloom in that home. I love her becoming attached to the other children in the home (one older sister, several brothers). I love witnessing her life at home and school...and church. This one feels so natural, so authentic, so RIGHT. In particular, the narrative and the characterization.

Favorite quotes:
Home was such a funny word. For most kids, home was where your mom and dad lived, where you felt safe, where the bogeyman was merely make-believe. Home was where you knew every square inch of the place by heart, where you could wake up in the middle of the night and know exactly where you were without even opening your eyes. Paris didn't have a place like that. She didn't even have an address she'd lived at long enough to memorize, no single place that felt familiar as all that. Except maybe the city itself. For Paris, home was more a person, and that person was Malcolm. (30)
The next evening, when Paris and David were alone in the dining room setting the table, David said out of the blue, "I used to be afraid of the dark. And of the bogeyman, and of spiders--all sorts of things."
"Really?" said Paris.
"What did you do?"
"I started keeping God in my pocket."
"It's something my mom told me once. To keep God in my pocket."
"I don't understand. How can God fit inside your pocket."
"No, that's not it. It just means to keep God close, you know, like he's right there, in your pocket, close enough to call on, or to talk to. That's what I do when I'm afraid." (41)
Because he lives, I can face tomorrow. Because he lives, all fear is gone... Paris sang the words and they became true for her. She wasn't afraid anymore. Not of being beaten, or being locked in a closet. Not of the dark, or of never seeing Malcolm again, or of nobody wanting her. And she wasn't even afraid of sticking out on Easter. Paris could hardly recognize the fearless person she was turning into. Because I know he holds the future... She was learning to keep God in her pocket, and because she had him to talk to, she was beginning to have faith that she'd be all right. (103)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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