Allison's Book Bag

Road to Paris by Nikki Grimes

Posted on: March 30, 2012

Never judge a book by your first read. Two years I ago, I read Road to Paris by Nikki Grimes and disliked it. Although I still don’t care for the ploy in the preface of a “deadly” phone call, this time around I did really enjoy this foster care story.

Eight-year-old Paris and her older brother Malcolm have been deserted by their mother. When they run to their grandmother for help, she tells that she’s already raised her own kids and is too old to start again. As for foster parents, being as abusive as their mom’s boyfriend, they haven’t worked out well either. Then Paris moves in with the Lincolns. Now the question is can Paris ever trust anyone again?

Why am I rereading a book that I initially disliked? Well, Road to Paris was a 2010 Golden Sower nominee. If you read author Nikki Grimes’ bio, you’ll find that the book seems largely drawn from her real life. Her parents were separated and united several times, before they divorced. Consequently, Grimes and her older sister were bounced around from relative to relative and foster home to foster home. Many of those experiences sadly were horrendous. Is it any wonder that several of her books including Road to Paris are about foster homes?

As for multicultural aspect, the first clue to the ethnicity of Paris occurs on page nine: “Paris’ white blue-eyed father abandoned her when she was four. Apparently, he couldn’t handle walking down the street with a child whose skin was so much darker than his own.” The next clue comes on page twenty: “…. pressed her brown face against the cool window of the train….” Then when Paris meets the Lincolns, we learn that they are one of three black families on the block.”

Paris suffers prejudice in two ways: one due to being a foster child and other due to her color. For example, although Mrs. Lincoln acts loving and kind, her sister reacts to Paris by saying, “This is the new one, huh? My God, Sis, you collect sick kids like strays.” Then later Paris feels ready to give up on white folks when her best friend’s father calls her “a nigger face girl”. After the latter incident, Mrs. Lincoln has a heartfelt talk with Paris about how to handle hateful people.

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?

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