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Friday, June 30, 2017

Release & Review - Maybe in Paris by Rebecca Christiansen

Image and blurb from Goodreads

Title: Maybe In Paris 
Author: Rebecca Christiansen
Publication Date: June 20th, 2017
Age Category/Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Keira Braidwood lands in Paris with her autistic brother, Levi, and high hopes. Levi has just survived a suicide attempt and months in the psych ward—he’s ready for a dose of the wider world. Unlike their helicopter mom and the doctors who hover over Levi, Keira doesn’t think Levi’s certifiable. He’s just . . . quirky. Always has been.

Those quirks quickly begin to spoil the trip. Keira wants to traipse all over Europe; Levi barely wants to leave their grubby hotel room. She wants to dine on the world’s cuisine; he only wants fast food. Levi is one giant temper tantrum, and Keira’s ready to pull out her own hair.

She finally finds the adventure she craves in Gable, a hot Scottish bass player, but while Keira flirts in the Paris Catacombs, Levi’s mental health breaks. He disappears from their hotel room and Keira realizes, too late, that her brother is sicker than she was willing to believe. To bring him home safe, Keira must tear down the wall that Levi’s sickness and her own guilt have built between them.

Buy Links: Amazon 

1 “Really?” Stars

ARC via NetGalley

Thank you, Sky Pony Press!

First of all, I don’t rate books one star on a regular basis. I really don’t. I feel horrible every single time I do it, and since I don’t like making myself sad, I try not to do this often. But I had a bad feeling about this story from chapter one, and I wish I could say I’m surprised I ended up disliking it this much, but I am not.

Let me just quickly say I don’t feel qualified to talk about the representation of Autism in this book. I read on Goodreads that the author’s brother is Autistic, and I don’t want to offend her family in any way. So I’ll stay away from this topic. I’m sure other reviewers with better understanding of the subject will talk about this aspect of the story.

I want to start by talking about the premise. This premise in itself is a bomb ready to go off. Look at the blurb: girl ignores her brother’s diagnosis and decides it’s a good idea to take him to Europe weeks after he attempts suicide + girl is more worried about flirting and falling in love than being around her brother + girl calls her brother’s autism “quirks” + girl abandons her autistic brother in a strange country to hang out with guy + girl finally realizes she screwed up. See where I’m getting here? This is a recipe for disaster.

I get that the point of the story is to show Keira’s journey from being clueless to finally understanding what’s happening around her. Growing up is part of her arc. But when you’re dealing with serious topics like these, you need to be 100% sure the main character is someone readers can get behind. Someone readers are willing to follow through every mistake. Someone readers will forgive because they see she’s trying to be better. I didn’t get that from Keira.

Keira was too selfish to be the protagonist of a story like this. She only thought about herself and, even when it seemed she was thinking about her brother, she truly wasn’t. And I could see that from the first few paragraphs.

The book starts with Keira hearing a commotion because her brother tried to kill himself. No spoiler here since the blurb talks about this part. Okay, so if you’re going to start with something like that, the scene needs to be so emotional I’ll instantly feel for the characters involved, right? Well, that didn’t happen. Keira didn’t give me anything to hold on to. She didn’t get out of her room even though she heard her mother screaming, the ambulance coming and everything else that was going on. I got nothing. Absolutely nothing from her.

Later on we come to learn Keira is suffering from anxiety, so maybe that why she didn’t even leave her room. Ok. I get that. What I don’t get is why she seemed to not care for her brother at all until she decided, HEY, you’re dealing with mental illness right now, the doctors are saying maybe you won’t be able to ever live without supervision, but we should take an unsupervised trip to Paris and, you know, ignore everything else.

And the thing was, I got the feeling that this wasn’t even about her brother and her misguided, but well-intended attempt to show him that he could live life the way he wanted. No. It was all about her. It was about her dream of going to Paris after graduation—a dream she was afraid wouldn’t be fulfilled because of her brother’s suicide attempt. I truly felt like the only reason Keira even thought about taking her brother to Paris was to make the whole trip possible. Her mother had made it clear she disapproved of Keira’s choice to travel, and doing it while her brother was hospitalized would’ve been really cruel of her. So it came across as if she was finding the perfect solution to her “problem”: taking him with her.

Had Keira been a good sister to Levi, I would’ve believed she truly wanted him there, but she couldn’t have cared less about him. She was too busy thinking about Paris and falling in love.

Dude. Keira was obsessed with falling in love. In Paris, preferably.

What I’m about to say next will shock every single person who’s ever read one of my reviews, but here it comes: THIS BOOK DIDN’T NEED A ROMANCE SUBPLOT OR A ROMANCE-FOCUSED MAIN CHARACTER!

I know. I know. But it’s true. This book would’ve been so much better if instead of trying to fall in love with every single boy she met, Keira had been focused on her brother. I wanted to read a book about a good sibling relationship, but nope. All I got was selfish Keira taking her brother to Europe, getting pissed off because he was uncomfortable in some situations and therefore changed her plans, and then ditching him when the first boy who wasn’t rude to her asked her out.

I mean, I would’ve been really pissed off at the author had I been French. Pretty much every French boy Keira met was horrible to her. Then came a nice Scottish guy and she was ready to fall in love.

I don’t know, but how exactly am I supposed to sympathize with a character who leaves her mentally ill brother in a hotel room for hours to go flirt with some guy she just met??? I don’t understand. I’m confused. I really am. Was I supposed to like her? 

I’m sorry, but she made bad choices after bad choices, and she seemed so clueless that I simply couldn’t even feel sorry for her.

Then when describing her brother’s situation to her crush she says her brother is “screwed up”. At this point, I’m like WTF?!

After that she obviously loses her brother because she left the poor guy alone in a hotel room from morning to freaking seven p.m.! The blurb said she’d lose him, so this isn’t even a spoiler. The thing is, this happens at the 80% mark, and if the main character is still making this type of choices this late in this story, I’m pretty confident I won’t change my opinion of her in the last 20% of the story.

I wasn't surprised when Keira kept irritating me after that. Sure, she eventually learned a thing or two, but I was so done with her at that point that I simply couldn't get behind the happy ending. I’m sorry.

So, while I did get what the story was trying to portray, I don’t think it had the right elements to successfully carry such a complex premise. I needed a main character I could get behind and Keira was never that for me. I went into this thinking I’d get a sibling story, but all I got was a selfish sister making her brother’s life even more difficult than it already was.
*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

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