And We're Off

272p. Penguin/Razorbill. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780448493817.
Gr 9 Up—Art has been Nora's passion as long as she can remember. A junior in high school, she's already making money selling fan fiction cartoons through her Tumblr account. And now Nora is one of the select few chosen to attend the Donegal Colony for Young Artists in Ireland this summer. Her famous artist grandfather is paying for her to travel through Europe before and after her three weeks at the school. But the best part—Nora will be on her own, away from her judgmental mother for the first time. She has visions of wandering carefree along the streets of Paris, Brussels, and Florence; making new friends at the youth hostels; and sipping cappuccinos with gorgeous boys. Then, on the way to the airport, her mother announces that she's decided to tag along, and Nora's dream summer takes on a decidedly nightmarish hue. This light mother/daughter tale is told in the first person. Readers will feel Nora's mounting resentment toward her mother warring with the sympathy and understanding on which her mother is counting. When Nora is forced to question the extent of her artistic ability, then finds her summer crush in the arms of another, she sees all of her dreams crashing down around her. The protagonist's ever-present worries and frustrations are nicely balanced with dry humor, delightful description, and a little bit of naughty pleasure. Teens will relate to Nora's plight, delight in loathing her mother, and appreciate the satisfying conclusion.
VERDICT A fun choice for summer reading shelves.

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