Romancing the Dark in the City of Light
Author: Ann Jacobus
Publication Date: October 6th, 2015
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press
Summary from A troubled teen, living in Paris, is torn between two boys, one of whom encourages her to embrace life, while the other—dark, dangerous, and attractive—urges her to embrace her fatal flaws.
Haunting and beautifully written, with a sharp and distinctive voice that could belong only to this character, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unforgettable young adult novel.
Summer Barnes just moved to Paris to repeat her senior year of high school. After being kicked out of four boarding schools, she has to get on track or she risks losing her hefty inheritance. Summer is convinced that meeting the right guy will solve everything. She meets two. Moony, a classmate, is recovering against all odds from a serious car accident, and he encourages Summer to embrace life despite how hard it can be to make it through even one day. But when Summer meets Kurt, a hot, mysterious older man who she just can’t shake, he leads her through the creepy underbelly of the city-and way out of her
When Summer’s behavior manages to alienate everyone, even Moony, she’s forced to decide if a life so difficult is worth living. With an ending that’ll surprise even the most seasoned reader, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unputdownable and utterly compelling novel.
Lately, it seems that a lot of the books that I have been reading are these light, cheerful stories where the main character doesn’t have any real problems other than which boy she should date. Yes, sometimes those books are enjoyable (usually they are), but many of them are lack a lot of depth, and it seems as if they are afraid to touch on a lot of serious topics that real teenagers deal with.
Our main character, Summer, has been moved around from school to school throughout the last few years, mainly because she has been expelled from them due to her poor choices regarding drugs and alcohol. When she is forced to move to Paris with her mother, she starts a new school for a semester so that she can finally get all the credits she needs to graduate. Summer’s mother keeps pushing the issue, because if Summer graduates high school and then from college by the time she is twenty-two, a large inheritance from her late grandfather goes to her. If she doesn’t have a college degree by then, however, the money goes to other family members, who plan on using it for charity.
While of course this should be enough of a motivation for Summer to do well in school, she is suffering from depression and feelings of worthlessness, and she also has an alcohol addiction which causes her to make choices that aren’t always very favorable.
When she meets a fellow classmate, Moony, who she tries hard to befriend, things begin to turn around for her. She cares a lot for Moony and their friendship, and she feels that she might be able to get on track if she spends time with Moony and makes some new friends. Since Moony does not approve of her drinking or previous drug use, she tries hard to quit the habits and look on the bright side of things, although it doesn’t last as long as she would have liked it to.
When she meets Kurt, things change. He’s a little bit older, and he embraces all the things about Summer that Moony doesn’t. He encourages her to drink, and Summer gets into trouble when she’s around him. He loves the dark side of things, and he brings Summer down with him.
This book tackles some serious issues that a lot of teenagers deal with, yet for some reason, isn’t really talked about or written about as much as it should be. Romancing the Dark in the City of Light deals with issues that seem almost taboo to discuss, such as alcohol addiction, depression, and suicide. While these are not cheerful topics at all, they are things that a lot of people (adults, teenagers, and sadly, even children sometimes) do deal with on a daily basis. While this book deals with dark subject matter, it has an uplifting message underneath it all that might just make people who are dealing with these types of situations not feel so alone. I was once a teenager who suffered from severe depression, and having this book back then might have made me feel like it was okay, and that there wasn’t anything wrong with me, and that sometimes it’s okay to need help if you feel overwhelmed and sad. I hope that others who read this book feel the same way after they finish it, and the suicide prevention information in the back of the book is a wonderful section of resources that can prove useful if you’re feeling like your depression is just too much.
I honestly recommend this book to just about everyone…and even though it deals with some pretty dark and heavy subject matter (and tends to be sad in a few places), I found it to be a very important book, and it’s earned a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
Ann Jacobus earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lived with her family for many years in the Arabian Gulf and in Paris, France. She now lives in San Francisco where she writes, reads, volunteers weekly on a suicide crisis line, and frequently resorts to crock-pot meals of canned soup, fowl and whatever’s in the fridge.