Title: Maybe in Paris
Author: Rebecca Christiansen
Published in: 2017
Genres: contemporary fiction, realistic fiction, mental health/mental illness, travel
“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.”
Maybe in Paris is about Keira and her brother, Levi’s vacation to Paris. Keira had always wanted to explore Europe and she’d planned to, but her plans were put on hold when Levi attempted suicide. Following his suicide attempt, he spent two months in a treatment center, where he was diagnosed with autism and possibly schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Unlike her parents and the doctors, though, Keira didn’t want to be so quick to label him and thought he just needed to go out into the real world, so she invited him to come to Paris with her.
I thought Keira’s mother was horrible. I mean, yes, I understand that Levi needs more attention sometimes because he has autism, but Keira needs her mother’s attention too. She also needs to be accepted for who she is instead of being pressured so much to be someone she’s not. But it wasn’t just that. Keira’s mother actually called her a name and wasn’t at all apologetic for calling her own daughter what she did. Before Keira and Levi left, she made Keira know about Levi’s medications. She didn’t just hand her a list or even just have her memorize the list, though She actually made flashcards and quizzed her every day and then made a written test a few days before they left. Then even when Keira ended up the hospital in a foreign country, she still paid more attention to Levi. Once she did finally come to Keira’s room, she walked in, then walked out. It wasn’t until the very end that she showed any kindness to Keira.
I liked Keira’s stepfather, Josh. He was the opposite of Keira’s mother: reasonable, logical, caring, and kind. I felt like he acted more like a real parent to Keira than her own mother did. It was also refreshing to read a story where the stepparent is loving of the main character and they have a bond like they would with their biological parent.
I’m not sure about Keira’s character development in this book. The previous year she spent all her time crushing on and fantasizing over a French exchange student instead of being there for her brother when he needed her most. After his suicide attempt, she saw her mistake and realized she needed to put her family first. But then in Paris, she yet again put a boy before her family. At the same time I can’t really blame her. While I know Levi has autism, he acted selfishly the entire time, even if he didn’t mean to. It must’ve been hard for Keira to have to sacrifice what she wanted for him. And not just on that trip, but throughout her childhood too. But by the end she learned the lesson of needing to put her family first again, for real this time.
Keira also had some mental health issues of her own. They were undiagnosed, but she struggled with anxiety and panic attacks. After everything that had happened the previous spring, death had become a trigger for her anxiety, but she didn’t realize that until she had one at the Louvre.
There was a bit of romance in this novel. Keira had dreamed of meeting a boy in France and she did, outside Notre Dame, though he wasn’t French. She spent a couple of days with him, but it didn’t lead to anything more. He was very sweet and a gentleman, comforting her when she panicked in the Paris Catacombs, helping her find her missing brother, and just staying with her through it all. After everything, he invited her to visit him in Scotland, but she turned him down since she was flying home the next day. By the summary I thought the romance would be the main focus, but I liked it actually wasn’t.
One thing that annoyed me was that there were many French phrases used in this book, but a translation wasn’t always provided. I don’t know any French, so I became frustrated reading these and eventually just gave up. I mean I knew from the context it was things like ordering food and greeting people, but a translation of all the phrases would’ve been nice.
Maybe in Paris was a good book about sibling bonds and family. I recommend it, especially if you liked Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown, as they were very similar.
Rating: 4/5 Stars