Helynne's Reviews > Un été chez ma grand-mère

Un été chez ma grand-mère by India Desjardins
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May 21, 2013

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Read from September 16, 2012 to April 22, 2013

Aurélie has made it through grade 9, but boyfriend Nicolas has broken up with her (over the misunderstanding about Tommy kissing her in a music store, which was captured on video and shown on local TV) and recommended that they be just friends. To help herself through the resulting sadness, she has discovered the joys of le chocolat: ("C’est le fun"). to the point of waaaaay overdoing it. Although Aurélie longs to get back together with Nicolas, she keeps goofing up every attempt and embarrassing herself, then must spend the summer living in a remote part of Quebec with her Grandmother Laflamme while her mother takes a summer trip to France with her chum Francois Blais, (who is also son boss [28]), whom Aurélie does not like at all. I love the way Desjardins has fun with various font sizes to reveal her young heroine’s emotions and embarrassment. For example, at an amusement park with “sa best,” Kat, she eats too much of a queue de castor au Nutella (a pastry shaped like a beaver tail slathered in Nutella; how great a mixture of Quebecois and French culture is that?), then goes on a wild park ride, and confesses “j’ai vomi.” (with vomi in teeny, tiny font). Despite her skepticism, Aurélie has a fun summer bonding with her paternal grandmother who helps her feel closer to her deceased dad who died some five years earlier. The two even make a pact: If Grand-maman will stop smoking cigarettes, Aurélie will eat chocolate in moderation and only for pleasure, and not “manger ses emotions” [270]). Aurélie also encounters a short summer romance with a cute guy named Gabriel (Gab), although she still dreams of getting back together with Nicolas. A more expedient problem, however, is the imminent closure of her all-girls’ private school and the probability that her mother will put her in another private school instead of letting her go to public, co-ed school with Kat, Nicolas, Tommy, and all her other friends. Some fun linguistic aspects of this tome include the kids’ use of come on! (31), il est sweet avec toi (72) , le rush des examens (77), tu squeezes le tube [de dentifrice] (56), Oh, boy! (110), Oh, wow (100), les bobépines (for one’s hair) (144), "c’est total cheap shot (197), and "ça deviendra un running gag entre nous trois (279). Meanwhile, Aurélie’s mother is experiencing some cultural challenges in France. She loves French cheeses, but admits she misses Cheez-Whiz (191). And, ironically, Madame Laflamme has picked up the expression “le week-end,” which Aurélie sees as "totale influencée par les expressions françaises de France” (231). As the summer closes and a new school experience approaches, Aurélie gets the feeling is moving on. “J’ai la nette impression que tout va changer” (303).

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