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This review is from: The French Girl (Paperback)First sentence: Papa used to always say that the wind carried with it either secrets or souls and if you watched very carefully, you could tell which one it was.
Originally published as a Kindle-only novel, and recently released in paperback, The French Girl is a story of an eleven-year-old girl named Etoile living in the fishing town of Cote Nouveau, MA in the 1970's.
With the death of Etoile's father during a storm five years before that took the lives of 12 fishermen, Etoile's mother disintegrates into a neglectful and abusive drunk. Anais, Etoile's 15-year-old sister, is responsible for making certain that Etoile is fed and taken care of. When her mother dies under suspicious circumstances, Etoile is sent to live with her mother's cousin Giselle in New Hampshire.
Giselle is an artist who also crafts natural bath products for sale to the students at a nearby university. Her partner Jean is a professor of Women's Studies at the university, and strives to find her own way to connect with Etoile.
Etoile is transported from a world of neglect and abuse into a world of love and acceptance. At eleven, she knows there is something "different" about Giselle and Jean's relationship, but the care they and their friends show for her overrides everything else. Of course, not everyone is accepting, and a law that does not permit adoption by a single person is used by a county worker as a basis for taking Etoile away from her new-found family.
Told in the first-person through Etoile's eyes, I really enjoyed the way the writing stayed true to how a young girl that age would perceive the happenings around her. As Etoile learns to swim and ride a bike, she is also learning how to cope with a particular boy whose mother is virulently opposed to seeing Giselle and Jean as an equal couple. She also finds a lovely friend in a girl named Winnie. I found myself holding my breath at a school open house, wondering how Winnie's parents would react to Giselle and Jean.
The only problem I had was a slight problem placing this large community of French-speakers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire; I kept picturing a town or towns in France rather than here in the United States, especially the Cote Nouveau scenes.
Some of Giselle's back story is also slowly revealed. The way the author tied it in with Anais and HER story was very well-done and timed perfectly.
A heartwarming story and a fast-flowing read.
Writing: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Plot: 4 out of 5 stars
Characters: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reading Immersion: 3 out 5 stars
BOOK RATING: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Book Clubs: Yes; I think it would make a good book club selection, fostering discussions of adoption, same-sex couples, and proper care of children.