Title: Vidalia in Paris
Author: Sasha Watson
Viking Press, October 2008
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance
Recommended to: Teens, 12 and up
When high-school senior-to-be Vidalia Sloane is accepted for a summer-long art scholarship in Paris, France, she's overjoyed. Happy to get away from her borderline-crazy mother, sheltered home life, and practically nonexistent social status, Vidalia leaves for Paris ready for a fantastic summer of change and opportunity. But when she arrives in Paris, things aren't quite going her way: her host family is anything but warm and caring, her new art teacher is seemingly harsh and not open to her creative talent, and her former best friend is being more hostile than usual towards her. But then formerly-invisible Vidalia meets two boys: Julien, who works at an English bookstore and is funny, sweet, and a great friend to Vidalia; and Marco, the gorgeous, dangerous art dealer who Vidalia instantly falls for...As the summer wears on, Vidalia keeps herself involved in a very difficult art project, but soon finds herself in a load of trouble due to Marco and his profession, and she'll have to choose between her passion for him and what truly is best for her and her reputation.
All I can say about talented new author Sasha Watson's debut novel is this: absolutely phenomenal. I don't rate many books as A+, but if any YA novel fit this category, it would be Vidalia in Paris. Ms. Watson combines the perfect amounts of romance, mystery, and summer fun into her first young adult book. Well-written with well-developed, realistic characters, Vidalia was a thrill to read. By the time I hit the middle, I couldn't stop reading, and was sucked into Vidalia's city experiences. I was addicted to the dialogue, Marco and Vidalia's escapades through the City of Light, and the sparkling setting that was so well-described by this up-and-coming author that I could practically picture Paris as I read through Ms. Watson's poetic descriptions. The plot was perfectly thought out, and I especially loved Vidalia's character: she was real, making her own mistakes and learning from them. I can't wait to see what's next from Ms. Watson!