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Romancing the Dark in the City of Light: A Novel Hardcover – October 6, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Summer Barnes has moved to Paris to be near her mother and repeat her senior year of high school. The Paris American International School is the fifth school she has attended in four years. Summer has to acclimate to a new environment while she struggles with her father's death, her mother's absenteeism, and her own alcoholism. She hopes to graduate high school and college by age 22 in order to inherit her grandfather's fortune. After Summer enrolls in school, Moony and Kurt fall for her. Moony is a likable senior who tries to keep Summer out of trouble. Kurt is mysterious and encourages her demons. But there is more to Kurt than meets the eye. He seems to follow Summer and anticipate her needs. Although Summer knows Moony is the right choice, Kurt seems to have a destructive influence over her. Dealing with her problems and being caught between two such different guys, she begins to wonder if her difficult life is even worth living. In this realistic fiction title, Jacobus has created three strong characters. Summer and Moony are believable, flawed, and well-crafted teen protagonists. They each have their own complications and struggles. Many young adults will be able to relate to one or both of these characters. Savvy readers may pick up on clues along the way, making the ending less surprising. VERDICT The short chapters will appeal to reluctant readers, and the seamless pacing makes this book hard to put down.—Jeni Tahaney, Duncanville High School Library, TX
"Jacobus creates a full picture of wild and wonderful Paris in her debut novel, tinted with an exotic magic realism that adds an extra layer of atmosphere. Recommend to teens who are interested in exploring serious issues, such as suicide and teen alcoholism, or those who prefer their fiction moody and thought-provoking." --Booklist
"In her debut novel, Jacobus explores difficult topics including depression, alcoholism, death, and the reckless behavior that can accompany them. As Summer struggles with alcohol dependency and contemplates suicide, readers will grit their teeth in the hope that Moony will win the romantic tug-of-war with Kurt in time to help Summer see the light at the end of the tunnel." --Publishers Weekly
"...A powerful glimpse into the world of darkness and the love that can pull one from its depths. A creepy, haunting read that will surprise readers at the end." --YA Books Central
"Jacobus nailed the struggle with addiction, she nailed physical limitations, she nailed alcoholic and disability-related depression, she nailed the chaos of the active alcoholic, and she nailed the hopelessness and despair that can come from all of it." --Disability in Kidlit
"The complexity of the story is a reflection of the complexity of life, and Jacobus handles it with a gentleness and care that is to be applauded." --Hypable
Top customer reviews
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Its rare to find a YA author who can handle an issue like alcoholism with such a deft hand. Ann Jacobus has my deep gratitude for masterfully blending the fantastical with the very, very real and arriving at a perfectly balanced place that does nothing to romanticize suicide or drinking problems.
With Summer Ms. Jacobus gives us a heroine who is self destructing but still entirely likable. We want her to get help, to find some way to cope with the tragedy her life has been till now. We care that she's making awful decisions and we recognize the pain she's in. Summer has a confidence and self possession even she's unaware of and her journey to find the beauty and intelligence lurking inside a deeply damaged and unhappy girl is both haunting and insightful.
The men in her life, wonderful Moony and so evil of course he's appealing Kurt are perfect foils for one another but Ms. Jacobus avoids the trope "triangle" that is so de reguer these days. The connection between the three of them is perfectly handled and never feels forced.
Kurt's character in particular is fascinating. He calls to mind Neil Gaiman's Endless family. We're never given an outright explanation for him; where he comes from or who or what he even is but he is captivating, easy and horrible all at once. Despair can be seductive because it requires no effort. Just lie back in his arms and he'll make everything better forever.
The night streets of Paris are just as much a character in its own right. From the catacombs under the city to the Ponts des Arts bridge with its hundreds of love locks Jacobus takes us on a tour of the Paris not talked about in the guide books. She finds beauty in the dark and gloom. The reader cannot help but be transported right along with Summer.
This was a terrific read and one I will highly recommend to anyone teen or adult.
Forced to move to Paris to live with her very rich mother after being kicked out of four high schools, eighteen-year-old Summer is not a happy camper. In order to inherit a lot of money, her grandfather’s will mandates that she graduate from a private high school and finish college by the age of twenty-two, but Summer can’t muster up the interest needed to finish the last five weeks of her senior year. She’d rather spend time drinking, and dreaming of the Parisian boyfriend she absolutely MUST find so she could have a purpose for her life.
After a suicide on the Metro she meets the very handsome Kurt, who she soon decides is going to be the boyfriend she’s been seeking. She also feels the same way about Moony, a fellow student at her high school. As time goes on, Summer spends more time getting drunk and hanging out with Kurt than she does with Moony – even though he’s the one who makes her heart flutter. With just a few weeks left before she’s supposed to graduate, Summer makes a decision that will forever change not only her life, but also Moony’s.
I wasn’t a fan of this book. I knew Summer had big problems, but some of what happened to her seemed a bit far fetched as well as fantastical. I also had a problem with her constant neediness and the way she couldn’t handle rejection – even something as simple as someone saying they had to go to a doctor’s appointment when she’d invited them to coffee.
Though I enjoyed the descriptions of Paris, which reminded me of the time I’d spent there many years ago, Moony was the only one that really grabbed my interest as I found Kurt and Summer to be clichés. It is because of Moony that I gave this book two stars instead of one.
I’ll leave it up to those of you in the 16 and older range to decide if you want to read it or not.
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