When the Plan Is to Get to Paris

When the plan is to get to Paris, Cleveland Potts will stop at nothing.  She has a dream, a checklist and plenty of determination.  But what surprised me about this book is the depth of the issues with which Cleveland has to deal.  She has an incarcerated parent, and readers will get new empathy for families who struggle with loved ones who have made bad choices.  They are punished too and struggle financially and emotionally despite doing the right thing.

On a lighter note, there is a portion of this book that takes place in my little town of Los Altos, Ca.  It was so much fun to have it represented along with some of our very real local businesses.  The author came for a wedding and decided to incorporate it into her latest book.  How lucky for us!

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Title: Paris Projectwhen the plan is to get to Paris

Author: Donna Gephart

Target: Grades 4-7

Series: No

What this book is about: Cleveland Potts wants to leave Sassafras, FL and she has a plan.  Cleveland has devised a list of the things that will get her to Paris and she is committed to checking off each one.  This is quite a challenge given that her father was recently incarcerated for stealing money from his boss.  It has left her family financially strapped and their reputation suspect.  But Cleveland has a support system that is helping her make things happen and while getting to Paris may be difficult, she keeps moving things forward!

Why I love this book:

  • I loved Cleveland.  Yes, I am fluent in French, so that may have clouded my judgment “un petit peu” with her love of all things Parisienne, but I dare you not to love her too.  Life is tough, but she doesn’t complain, she is a good friend, she works hard and she appreciates her family.  
  • The issue of incarceration is only one smaller part of the story, but I think it is important.  The cost that innocent families pay is important to highlight.  I just finished watching a recent episode of This Week Tonight with John Oliver, which focuses on a few of the concerns surrounding inmates and this book immediately resonated with me.  I have included the episode below, but the tie in with video conferencing which Cleveland and her family use in the book, starts around minute 12.  It is worth a watch.
  • Ok, the best part of the book for me personally is the connection to my little town of Los Altos.  I don’t want to spoil any of the fun, but the author has visited and included many landmarks that actually exist. It always feels a little bit like celebrity watching when you recognize your haunts in print!

Who this book is for:

Great for kids who like realistic fiction.  Reminded me a bit of books like Why Can’t I Be You.  I loved the author’s book Death by Toilet Paper, so if your child liked that one, give this a try.

Final thoughts:

A wonderful story that surprised me with the difficult issues it addressed in a very manageable way.

To purchase this book:

Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Paris Project.  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.