When 16-year-old Alice’s grandmother dies, her family travels to modern-day Paris to close out her affairs. Unbeknownst to anyone in the family, however, her grandmother has left behind an apartment in Paris, untouched since the end of the second world war. Alice uncovers the diary of her grandmother’s sister, Adalyn, along with a disturbing photo that leads to more questions than answers about what her grandmother must have endured during the war.
The diary sends Alice headlong into uncovering a decades-old mystery, one that upends what she believes she knows of her family. Told through the dual narratives of present-day Alice and World War II-era Adalyn, the novel intertwines the two perspectives as the war marches on and Alice draws ever closer toward discovering what happened to her grandmother’s family.
Author Jordyn Taylor, who is also the deputy editor for magazine mainstay Men’s Health, draws a novel that captivates until the final page. Most of all, for subject matter that deals with death, heroism, and resistance, she’s written a compelling narrative with important parallels for today.
As fascism begins to creep into their daily lives, and neighbors begin turning in neighbors, Adalyn and her family each cope with the trauma and terror in vastly different ways. Her father, a survivor of the first World War, is broken and unable to cope with this one. Her mother, a wealthy socialite, prefers to maintain a positive outlook and trust that everything will work out for the best, even as the world falls apart around them. Her sister, who will eventually become Alice’s grandmother, is openly defiant to German soldiers, inviting disaster and reprisals.
For Adalyn, drawn to the resistance, her path is not yet clear. The book, released in May amid the Covid pandemic and before America’s unprecedented peaceful transition of power was lost, serves now as a timely reminder of the dangers that await when the rule of law is irrevocably broken.
No one in Adalyn’s family is called to combat. They are ordinary people, living ordinary lives. Yet some go to extraordinary lengths to protect their neighbors and friends, and resist the forces that seek to divide them. The characters of “The Paper Girl of Paris” rise to the challenge, and its lessons are for us, the readers, to carry forward.
Kate Lewis reviews books monthly for Military Families Magazine. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and more. Find her online @katehasthoughts.