Author: Jen Carter | Website
Publication Date: July 16, 2012
Publisher: Independent (CreateSpace)
My Interest: Review Request, Travel Wish
Age Group | Genre: YA | Contemporary – Realism, Romance
Way back when I made a comment on a blog about how I would love this book because I thought it was a read I would enjoy. Contemporary realism, a little romance, and Paris–all of my dreams wrapped into one read.So when the author, Jen Carter, approached me about reviewing it, I was all in. It’s a beautiful story, and as a lit major, I could appreciate all of the classic reads references.
I was graciously provided a copy via the author, Jen Carter. I was not compensated in any way for my review (cross my heart) nor did I promise a good rating. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine.
It’s a shocking revelation when Amy Winthrow finds out her grandmother has passed away, simply because she didn’t know her grandmother, Elizabeth Hathaway, existed. Feeling stuck at a job she dislikes, and in a relationship that’s not much better, Amy follows her inquisitive nature and writer’s mind on a journey that leads her down her grandmother’s life of broken dreams and lost romances. As she digs deep into the family history kept from her for so long, Amy finds an unlikely friend and their journey leads her to Paris where she finds out more about herself than she would ever let on.
When I first started reading Chasing Paris, I was frustrated. The main character Amy has a sister named April, and their grandmother Eva has a sister they didn’t know about named Lizzie. And then suddenly the POV shifted to a guy named Will. I found myself getting confused trying to keep the characters and story straight. I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out how their views were going to connect, but I knew they would. Honestly though, I don’t think my frustrations were so much about the story or the writing, but because I read this as an eBook. I am new to the whole world of digital stories and I can’t wrap my head around not being able to literally flip back a few pages to find what I’m looking for. For some reason, with tangible books I always remember the location of a passage, but I had trouble with that on the screen. I’m usually a fan of multiple points of view in novels, so that’s why I think most of my frustration came from the eBook format. I think I’ll always be a traditionalist.
But I digress…Carter’s Chasing Paris was wonderful. I felt that she had strong characters, and it was really neat to go along with Amy as she journeys not only to find out about her family, but about herself. I LOVE coming of age stories as well as contemporary realism because those are stories that could really happen and ones I almost always wish myself into. It was also really refreshing to find a read focused so much on character growth and conflict that there wasn’t a need for sex scenes or heavy language. I loved the fact that I could pick up this book, hand it to any student, teen, or tween, and not have to worry that there’s a scene in it they should skip over. It seems these days that there isn’t a market for books that avoid the realities of a teen’s mouth or sexual awakening, but I think there is. I think more authors should be bold enough to explore romance without the sexual aspect, and when they do, I can appreciate their writing so much more. I know that there probably are a LOT of authors who do this, it just seems that I haven’t come across them lately.
I was also pleasantly surprised with where the plot went. As I mentioned in my last review, it’s rare that I haven’t figured something out by the time the climax rolls around, but I felt that Carter had so much going on plot wise, it was sort of hard to see where the next turn would take me. As much as that was a good thing, I also felt at times that some of the plot could have been muted a bit, or at least approached differently. There were times when the point of view shifted to letters between Amy’s grandmother and her love, and I just felt like the read was slow. Again, that could’ve been the eReader aspect and the fact that my phone takes a million screen to equal one page. I mean, I loved how we got to learn about the story through letters, but I wondered if there could have been a different way to approach it so as to not feel like there was a disjointed shift in the middle of the story.
Nonetheless, Chasing Paris only fed my travel bug more, and I was happy when Amy finally made it to Paris. I sort of wished we could have seen more of the city… perhaps more of the story could have been set there, but I felt it was a good way to come full circle. Amy’s character really grows throughout the novel, and I liked how it was a slow change. In reality, we don’t just up and change our ways the next day, but often take slow growth, guidance, and mistakes to really discover ourselves. And this is exactly what happens to Amy.
For a debut novel, I’m really impressed with the intricacies of the story, and I like how Jen Carter weaved her English degree and time at UCLA into the story. Fiction is often based on some form of reality, and the fact that Carter has weaved what she knows into the novel helps cement it into the contemporary realism genre. I actually believed in the characters and setting. If you want a feel good read, or just want to escape somewher for awhile, Chasing Paris is the perfect pick.
If you like this novel, you might like….
Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
Ann and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
[for ratings system, please check out my Bookshelf]