Sarah's Stars

Lisa Barham. Project Paris
Simon Pulse  $11.99  ISBN 978-1-4169-1444-0  218 pg.
Reviewed by Lindsey, Age 13

I shoved the fax Georges had handed me in my bag, but before I could say ŕ tout a l'heure, he waved the morning papers in my face. "Alors, regarde." To appease him, I snatched the paper and began reading. That's when the angel of death swept down. Suddenly the world stopped moving. Evie, Georges, Toy, everything froze in a singular moment of cosmic emptiness. I stood there and stared at the words – just letters on a piece of paper really, but I couldn't make sense of them. I couldn't get them to form into something comprehensible. I didn't want to. The headline read: QUELLE HORREUR! MODEL STRIKE KO'S COUTURE.

Fashion is Imogene's life. She lives for Versace, she breathes Prada and if she could marry Louis Vuitton she would. When she gets the chance to be a trend-spotter in Paris over the summer, staying practically unsupervised in her aunt's stylish apartment with her best friend, it's au revoir Greenwich Village and bonjour Paris, even if it means leaving behind her maybe-boyfriend, Paolo, the Italian Stallion. Life seems almost perfect except for the fact that Imogene's arch-nemesis Brooke is scoping out the trends too and is after Imogene's ideas. Oh, and her office is a stinking houseboat. But there's a cute boy fixing it up, it's Couture Week in Paris and she gets to hang out with all of her old French friends! Yeah, life is good. But just when things start looking up, disaster "strikes". The models for Couture Week are all on strike and Imogene's boss is preparing to ship her back to NYC. Thinking quickly, she convinces her boss that she's on the trail of something good but what is it? The answer comes in the form of an anonymous designer dubbed Monsieur X. Before Imogene can say café au lait she is off on a mad dash across France to track down a vacationing concierge. There she encounters jewel thieves, a traveling circus, a chic hotel, angry fans, gossip journalists and a host of other madcap characters. Will Imogene be able to save the fashion day or will she be doomed to spend the rest of summer in New York with last year's reject jeans?

I found this book to be quite intriguing and very, very cute. The cover draws you in just because it's the right blend of girly-ness, sophistication and mystery. The illustrations inside only add more to the wonderful atmosphere of the novel and the prose goes along at a nice light pace. I'll admit I was a little bit confused by some of the references to the previous book, A Girl Like Moi, which I hadn’t read, so I do recommend reading the first book before this one, but I managed to grasp the gist of the story and I feel that it stands on it's own just fine. Unlike other teenage fiction books, this one is devoid of any lascivious references or vulgar language which is quite refreshing and the casual brand name-dropping doesn't clog up the dialogue. Next time you find yourself with nothing to do but look chic, sip on your café au lait and nibble your petit fours, pick up Project Paris and you'll feel just as trendy as the fashion-forward Imogene. All that's missing is the view of the Eiffel Tower and the cobbled streets filled with ambling Smart Cars.

Recommended for ages 12 and up.

This reviewer awards 4 and one-half stars to Barham’s Project Paris.


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