Sunday, June 16, 2013

Vive La Paris

During Memorial Day weekend, my mom and I drove to Columbia, MO for a half marathon I was running. The concept of this race series is very inspiring. It's called the Go Girl Run and it took place in three cities in MO.  It's an all female half marathon, so I already felt empowered by the amazing women I was around. Part of the proceeds of the run went to charities that aided women in need. How great!
On the way there, we started listening to the audiobook Vive La Paris by Esme Raji Codell.  I LOVED her book, Sahara Special, so I don't know why it took me forever to get to this book (as the little mantra goes through my mind, "too many books, so little time"). This book focuses on 5th grader Paris and her life lessons learned through multiple characters: her piano teacher, Mrs. Rosen, her brother Michael, and his bully, Tanaeja.
Paris takes you through time spent practicing the piano with Mrs. Rosen, a Holocaust survivor. Mrs. Rosen spares no time dispensing advice or her opinions (which come with a side of humor). Paris thinks she has got it all figured out, but you come to find out that her view needs some readjusting or as Mrs. Rosen puts it, Paris needs to view the world through "rose-colored glasses".
Paris divulges about her anger towards classmate, Tanaeja, who bullies her 13-year-old brother, Michael, out on the playground daily. She shares this anger with Michael, who brushes it off and responds that he won't hit a girl. When Paris doesn't get the response she wants from Michael, she goes to Mrs. Rosen. Mrs. Rosen lets Paris know that maybe she needs to talk with Tanaeja to figure out the problem or try and be friends with her.
Around this time Michael starts joining in on Paris's piano lessons by singing along. Mrs. Rosen decides that with enough practice they can take their show on the the local retirement home. Their show is a hit! Paris notices for the first time just how genuinely happy Michael is to be able to sing in front of an audience. 
The happiness for Paris is short-lived with a gift that Mrs. Rosen bestows to her. This part of the novel is when you realize just how young and naive Paris is, but also just how much every student in America needs to read this novel. It brings about a powerful, and at times both delightful and sad ending.

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