A book with a title like Romancing the Dark in the City of Light…well, it brings along certain connotations. The Eiffel tower, a pink sunset cover, two characters holding hands in the rain…a hardcore YA romance, right?
While Ann Jacobus’ new novel definitely deserves the “romance” label, the story doesn’t end there. The novel follows Summer Barnes, a high school senior new to Paris. She’s been expelled from four high schools and is known for her excessive drinking and bitter attitude towards…well, most things. Perhaps the city of light will offer her what she needs to get her life back on track. And it’s not long until she meets Moony and Kurt–two amazing yet completely opposite characters.
I realize that everything I’ve said so far is still pointing towards the kind of over-the-top love story that only teenage girls stereotypically get into. To be honest, the synopsis on the book’s flap doesn’t give much indication that it’s anything but. The one tell? “…an ending that’ll surprise even the most seasoned reader.”
Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is, really, living up to its title. The book actually covers extremely raw themes, from divorce, alcoholism, suicide, lack of acceptance, and beyond. I mean, take the city of Paris itself. This place is so romanticized in our minds that we daren’t think anything could taint it. Yet Paris is a city that actually deals with heavy poverty, high crime rates, and other social issues that are rarely–if ever–dealt with.
But that’s Jacobus’ point. Everything important in life–love, relationships, family, etc.–is incredible, but it all bears a “vodka-soaked underbelly.” Things aren’t always as they seem.
If you’re into YA with a twist, give this novel a try. It won’t be what you’re expecting.
Thanks for reading!