Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lily's Passport to Paris

In Lily's Passport to Paris, your pre-teen girl will journey to "gay Par-ee" with Lily Robbins. Whether it's putting up with fellow-Americans Dan and Betty Edwards, picking up the "details" of her pilgrimage, or learning about Lily's first crush, Christophe, Lily's Passport to Paris by Nancy Rue is sure to entertain. This is the 14th--and final--book in The Lily Series.

Along with her mom and siblings, Lily goes to Paris for a month where her mom will be helping in a mission for poor kids. She's understandably nervous about leaving Oxford, England, where she and her family have been for a while. She's just begun making friends, and she's afraid her new friends, Kimble and Ingram, will move on in the few weeks she's gone. However, she's willing to see what God has in store for her.

In Paris, Lily meets Christophe, a young orphan, and his older sister, Odette. Christophe is intriguing, but Odette is downright scary. As Lily begins making friends with Christophe, and after he shows her "his Par-ee," he and his sister abruptly leave, leaving Lily bewildered, and her older brother, Art, sure of the fact that young Lily has her first crush.

When Christophe returns in the middle of the night to tell Lily goodbye, she begs him to stay. He tells her he can't--that Odette wants to take them away from the mission so she can get a job to support them, rather than taking the charity of Pastor Renee. Lily, desperate to keep her new friend and share God with him, begs him to meet her in a few hours so she can talk to her mom. An arrangement is made where Christophe takes Lily and their chaperone, Art, out every afternoon.

The arrangement angers Odette, and she physically threatens Lily, then warns her to keep quiet or she'll harm Lily's younger brother and sister. To top it off, Lily's backpack goes missing briefly, which includes her all-important passport. Several days later, Christophe comes and confesses Odette has Lily's passport; he stole it for her.

So much for Lily's mission to show God to Christophe.

Christophe believes his sister has left France--after all, she has Lily's passport, and with a little hair dye, could pass herself off as Lily. But then he decides she may still be in Paris near Notre Dame Cathedral. As Art, Lily, and Christophe head for the Metro to take them to the famed cathedral, Art has a diabetic insulin attack and Christophe has a severe asthma attack, leaving Lily to try to save the day. After she calls her mom and Pastor Renee for help, Lily spots another redhead--something rare in Paris. She realizes it's Odette, and goes up to the woman and tells her Christophe is looking for her and that he's in trouble with his asthma. Odette doesn't seem to want to believe her, but eventually does.

After a scary night with Christophe in the hospital, Lily is finally able to see her new friend again. Pastor Renee agrees that he and his wife will take in Christophe, and Odette will go to a "special home" for young women like herself, at least for a while. And Lily's dad arrives with a surprise for her: Reni, a friend from back in New Jersey.

And while Lily will miss her friends in both Paris and Oxford, she's looking forward to returning home... and seeing what God has in store for her.

What I Like: Sometimes in books for this age, having God present throughout the day can come off as forced. But it doesn't with this book. Lily's relationship with God seemed very real, as were her quests to find the details of Him everywhere, everyday.

The story is very engaging, and I really like how Paris and a couple of other places in France are almost characters in the book. Whether it was Lily trying to decipher how to say French words, or the details in the famed Granier Opera House, Ms. Rue really helped the reader feel like she was right there with Lily.

What I Dislike: This is a real nit-picky thing on my part, but as an adult, it seemed at the end that Odette was probably prostituting herself. Ms. Rue knows her audience, so she didn't get into the details of it very heavily. Clues that lead me to believe this are things such as: Odette being tattooed in a manner that made Pastor Renee nervous, wearing killer heels, how she dressed, strutting around the Metro... all kind of put together a picture of a girl around 20 prostituting herself. I would have liked a note at the end for parents, so if there were questions from a child about Odette's behavior, it could be explained in an age-appropriate manner.

Overall Rating: Excellent

Age Appeal: 9 - 12

Publisher Info: Zonderkidz, 2008; ISBN: 978-0-310-70555-0; Paperback $6.99

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Special Info: We've reviewed other books by Nancy Rue, as well as others in The Lily Series.

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