The French Impressionist
Publication date: December 6th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Rosemary is fifteen and gloriously free, on her own for the very first time. Part of an exchange program for aspiring artists, she arrives in sunny southern France with a single goal: she doesn’t plan to leave, ever. She wants a new life, a new family, and a new identity. But her situation, crafted from lies big and small, is precarious.
Desperate to escape haunting images from her past and a stage one helicopter parent, Rosemary struggles to hide her lack of artistic talent and a communication disorder that has tormented her all her life. She believes her dream of a new start will come true, until she unwittingly finds herself enveloped in a decades-old mystery that threatens to ruin her only chance for success. Determined to stay, Rosemary must choose whether or not she’ll tell the biggest lie of all, even if it means destroying the life of someone she cares about.
Dramatic, heartwarming, and full of teenage angst, The French Impressionist perfectly captures the struggle of those who feel they have no voice, and also shows the courage it takes to speak up and show the world who we really are.
I lift a carnation pink dress to my face and an even stronger whiff of the perfume I smelled on the bundle of letters drifts into my nose. And then something falls and lands with a soft “plop” at the bottom of the wardrobe. I reach down through a rainbow of fabric and find another bundle of letters tied with green ribbon. Gavin isn’t looking. He’s moved away and is staring around at Marguerite’s bedroom like he’s looking at a museum display. I stick the letters into my pocket and shove the wardrobe doors shut. I have to force them closed with my shoulder. I don’t succeed until Gavin joins me and helps. “We better go now,” he says. “They’ll miss us if we don’t hurry.” I don’t argue this, and we move into the next room. Gavin pauses beside a tall, narrow bookcase, eyeing it with an approving glance. “This place is so cool. Maybe we can come back tomorrow.” “No,” I blurt, glaring at him. Looking into this guy’s strange, dark eyes ringed with pale lashes, anger sparks inside me and flares to life. “No way.” Gavin takes a step closer. I take a step back, nearly tripping over books and boxes on the floor. “Why not? Is it because you don’t like me? Or,” he adds, lifting something in his hand. “Is it because you don’t want anyone else to know you’ve been taking things?” He’s holding another bundle of letters. Marguerite’s letters. He shouldn’t have them. They’re mine. I try to grab them. He holds on. My fingers close over his hand, the hand that holds the letters. We’re standing too close. “Why do you play these games with me?” he asks in a soft voice. “What games?” I whisper. His head leans in. I don’t stop him. I can’t find my feet. I can’t breathe. I. Am. Kissing. A. Boy. A tiny part of my brain wants to laugh in triumph. Jada dared me to kiss a boy on my trip to France. But then reality snaps back into place. Why am I doing this? For one, two horrified seconds, I’m frozen, feeling Gavin’s lips, hearing him inhale, smelling the bubblegum on his breath, his flowery hair gel, feeling one hand move up my arm, the other still clasped in mine. But I don’t like him! What am I doing? In a single unconscious movement, I place both hands onto Gavin’s chest and shove, hard. He flies back and lands on his butt. Before he can react, I turn to go but stumble and grab the bookcase for support. It trembles and moves away from the wall. It falls in slow motion, each second an eternity, but finally hits to the floor with a tremendous crash that reverberates through the apartment. Books scatter and explode and brittle pages fly, swirling like giant snowflakes in an indoor blizzard.
Rebecca Bischoff currently resides in Idaho with her family and works as a speech-language pathologist. She loves helping others, especially kids and teenagers, discover their own unique voices and learn to share who they are with the world. When she isn’t writing, she loves to read, spend time with her kids, and make awkward attempts to learn foreign languages. She is drawn to all things both French and Italian, used bookstores, and anything made out of chocolate.
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