The Road to Paris
Grimes, Nikki. 2006. The Road to Paris. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.
Coretta Scott King Award winning author Nikki Grimes offers up another slice of realism in The Road to Paris. The short, easy to read chapters in this slim novel will appeal to a wide variety of readers in the middle grades. Eight-year-old Paris Richmond is a girl of mixed race, living in foster families and trying to find her way in life. From the dedication page, “For Kendall Buchanan, my foster brother, and for the children of Royal Family Kids Camp”, it is clear that Nikki Grimes knows about the hardships many children in foster care face first hand. Independent and determined not to trust in others, Paris finally finds a family to love that loves her as well, yet she is forced once again choose between her biological, alcoholic abusive mother and her foster family. Grimes creates gut-wrenchingly heartfelt moments through realistic, believable characters. We feel Paris’ desperation as she and her brother, Malcolm, unsuccessfully try to get help from their grandmother, which eventually leads to their separation from each other. We sense Paris’ loneliness and depression through her unsent letters to Malcolm as she so desperately needs his shoulder on which to lean. The harsh truths of prejudice, betrayal and poverty are beautifully exposed in powerful dialogs and narratives portraying one young girls search for acceptance and self-awareness. Powerful themes of friendship, family, love, trust and hope give this story a positive perspective and leave the reader with promise that Paris’ might just have the moral strength to overcome all the roadblocks along her way.