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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Book Review: Bizou by Norma Klein

Eliane, called Bizou by her family, is coming to America to the first time with her mother, having grown up in France. Her father died when she was little and so it's just been her and her mother, Tranquility, a model. On the plane they met a young medical student, Nicholas, and stayed in the same airport hotel as him in New York. Nicholas takes Bizou sightseeing and when they return, Tranquility has left to sort some things out for herself. Luckily Nicholas is a responsible and upstanding young man and he takes Bizou under her arm and helps her try to track down her mother.

Boy, were they lucky with Nicholas. He really is a great guy and treats Bizou like his younger sister. She's also lucky to remember a couple of key details, as Tranquility never told her anything about her past. I would like to think Tranquility is an excellent judge of character, but I think she was really reckless and got very lucky.

It's interesting that (as far as I know) this is the only Norma Klein book featuring black main characters. Tranquility went to Paris and raised her daughter there, as she found the treatment of blacks in Europe much better than in America (I do hope Bizou will find things have changed). These characters also have the least traditional family - it's just mother and daughter, no siblings, no father, and while they don't seem to have lived a very wild life in Paris, it likely has been somewhat unsteady with work as a model, plus Tranquility would have had to travel a lot. Bizou is both innocent and experienced at the same time. She's very innocent of American ways and racism and she's very trusting of complete strangers, but at the same time she has a sophistication that is unusual in a young teen.

While as usual, there is acknowledgment of sex (Nicholas has a girl friend and hooks up with another woman, and Bizou's mother certainly had her share of boyfriends), Bizou herself only kisses although she does have two boyfriends. Mostly though this book isn't about romantic relationships, but about family. Yet another younger-skewing Norma Klein book that I thoroughly enjoyed rereading! I had totally forgotten the twist at the end and it came as a complete surprise. I really liked Bizou who is very appealing. I'd recommend this book highly to girls 11-14.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

1 comment:

Julie P. said...

I really need to read one of Klein's books. I think this one has the potential for an interesting book club discussion!