After the death of her beloved grandmother, a girl travels to Paris with her mother and finds solace and resolution.
Grandma Sylvia's promised 12th birthday gift to the City of Lights is set aside when she is killed in a tragic accident. Compounding her grief, Nora is angry that her mother doesn't appear sufficiently upset. While sorting affairs in Grandma's apartment, Nora discovers three tickets to Paris meant for her, Sylvia and her mother. Also included are a map and instructions for Nora to take several envelopes and a locked box on the trip to be opened in sequence, and Nora realizes it must be a kind of treasure hunt. She decides to keep the instructions, envelopes and box hidden from her mother. When they reach Paris (Nora’s brother takes the third ticket), Nora is afraid her mother will not allow her to go to the places outlined in Grandma's instructions, so the girl goes without her. She quickly learns that her mother was intended to be included, so the two of them follow Grandma's pre-planned and gift-filled journey, repairing and strengthening their relationship along the way. Nora's hopeful, open-hearted character is beautifully depicted. Plotwise, though, the story is a bit of a letdown. Though the ending provides a sufficiently appealing wrap-up, after such a long, suspenseful buildup, it almost can’t help but be anticlimactic.
Sweet but ultimately unsatisfying. (Fiction. 8-12)