Maybe In Paris
Keira Braidwood's whole dream is to go to Paris. She's saved for this event and has images of the French exchange student Jacques inviting her to go. The dream is shattered on Prom when Levi, her autistic brother, has a meltdown and the so-called 'cute' French guy shows his true colors. After Levi attempts suicide, Keira blames herself. Then when a doctor tells the family a fatalistic diagnosis of Levi, Keira has a thought that maybe if he comes with her to Paris, she can show everyone that her brother is okay. But once in Paris, Keira finds that maybe her brother might be as sick as the doctors have said. Can she overcome the wall that has divided them before it's too late?
What worked: I really loved this debut novel that is honest about the love between siblings which doesn't flinch at the hard times as well as the good ones. Keira blames herself for her brother's suicide attempt but also feels guilty that she has to give up things because of her brother's illness. There's flashbacks before her brother's 'breakdown' that are heartbreaking glimpses into the closeness these two shared.
When Keira goes to Paris, her idealist view of the city is in opposition to her brother's cynicism. Keira's feelings are real and raw. She battles between the feelings she has of the brother she used to know and the one that struggles with his illness. This is a strength of this novel.
I also loved Keira's coming of age journey as she travels through Paris. Readers get glimpses of the famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Versailles. There's even a hint of romance between Gable, a cute Scottish bass player that Keira meets.
Beautifully written coming of age story which doesn't flinch at the struggles between siblings but shows the power of unconditional love.