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Review: Finding Paris by Joy Preble

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Finding Paris
Joy Preble

Genre: YA Contemporary, Mystery, Road Trip
Hardback: 272 Pages
Publication: April 21, 2015
by Balzer + Bray

An evocative and compelling story of two sisters who would do anything for each other.

Sisters Leo and Paris Hollings have only ever had each other to rely on. They can't trust their mother, who hops from city to city and from guy to guy, or their gambler stepfather, who's moved them all to Las Vegas. It's just the two of them: Paris, who's always been the dreamer, and Leo, who has a real future in mind--going to Stanford, becoming a doctor, falling in love. But Leo isn't going anywhere right now, except driving around Vegas all night with her sister.

Until Paris ditches Leo at the Heartbreak Hotel Diner, where moments before they had been talking with physics student Max Sullivan. Outside, Leo finds a cryptic note from Paris—a clue. Is it some kind of game? Where is Paris, and why has she disappeared? When Leo reluctantly accepts Max's offer of help, the two find themselves following a string of clues through Vegas and beyond. But the search for the truth is not a straight line. And neither is the path to secrets Leo and Max hold inside.


I picked up Finding Paris because I love novels with strong family ties. It was disappointing that Paris and Leo's relationship and family situation isn't explored much beyond little snippets that kept the plot moving. However, I did get something more than I expected. With the fourth clue to Paris's location, I got a mystery that made stay up reading until I had finished the novel.

From the first pages, I knew that I would enjoy this novel. The writing is beautiful and descriptive, and I like how we really get into Leo's thoughts. Plus, Leo is an intelligent girl who tells Physics  / science-y jokes. Sure, they're cheesy ones that I've heard a lot, but how often do you get such jokes in a YA novel? It's rare that I find a protagonist who talks about the SATs, aims to attend a top-ranked college, and keeps the readers aware about these facts throughout the novel. It made me so happy to encounter such a girl in Leo. Better yet, she doesn't look like the stereotypical nerd.

I'm also very happy with how Max is also a science-y nerd and can keep up with Leo. He's a cool guy even if there are some questionable things about him, like his secret and how he offers Leo a ride even though they just met. That said, the romance was very rushed. The main events of this novel take place over the course of several days, and Max and Leo don't know much about each other even if they do learn some of their deepest concerns. As much as I've come to care about the two, I don't believe in passionately kissing a guy you just met the other day. Romantic relationships should take a little more time to build true intimacy.

I wish that more of Leo's home life and familial relationships were explored more. I especially would have liked to see Leo and Paris's relationship better developed before Paris leaves, setting the plot in motion, and perhaps afterwards as well through Leo's memories. I would have also liked to see more of Leo's home life growing up. These would have greatly helped me understand the circumstances leading to Paris's disappearance and the motivation behind Paris's behavior.

As it is, the ending felt rushed. I was particularly unhappy with the handling of the secrets. One secret leads to a plot twist that I didn't see coming. While it seems cool, I do wonder how the novel would have played out had there been more foreshadowing. I feel like such a secret should have influenced this character's behavior. Furthermore, we only see a partial resolution to one secret coming out into the open. We see progress towards resolving the other secret, but we don't get the satisfaction of seeing it carried out. If it's not going to be resolved for us, it would be better to tell us it's going to happen instead of setting it in motion only to end partway through. Overall, I would have liked to see both secrets play more of an overt role in the plot.

Finding Paris is a moving story about learning to open one's heart and facing the truth. While I did have some complaints, particularly entering the climax of events and during the resolution process, I very much enjoyed unraveling the mystery of Paris's disappearance. It wasn't on as large of a scale as I was anticipating with the road trip suggestion in the synopsis and cover, but the fourth clue raised the stakes and made me genuinely concerned with the outcome. Even before then, the beautiful writing and likable heroine in Leo drew me into her world. I recommend Finding Paris to those looking for a unique setting (in Vegas), sisterly bonds, road trips, and mysterious secrets.

A review copy was provided by Harper Collins for review

Rating: 4 stars

  • N/A

  • Language (cussing)
  • Alcohol
  • Kissing
  • Sexual abuse
  • Some violence

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