C.G. Drews's Reviews > Maybe in Paris

Maybe in Paris by Rebecca Christiansen
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did not like it
bookshelves: autism, contemporary, read-2017, young-adult

Well this was definitely a hot mess. And while I was actually wary going in because the blurb alone sounded problematic...I wanted to be wrong??? Because I have a curious infatuation with Paris, which Kiera had too so I was like "SURELY WE MUST GET ALONG LIKE SISTERS". Haha. No. Except for the part where she'd sell her sole for chocolate crepes. Then, sister, we are twins. Other than that?? Please and no. Plus it had a horrible representation of Autism that was rather infuriating and depressing. I basically just can't even with this book. Cannot.

However, AS I ALWAYS SAY...this is my personal opinion and if the book sounds like your kinda thing: go for it! And I will absolutely declare the foodie levels were DELICIOUS and glorious and I want to eat my kindle. Which could be awkward, because, you know, indigestion.

NOTE : all quotes are taken from the eARC and subject to change.

EVERYTHING THAT WENT SO HORRIBLY WRONG FOR ME:

• First of all let's talk about how horribly Levi's mental health and disabilities were portrayed. The book starts off with him trying to kill himself. Why? WE DON'T KNOW. Presumably he's sad but the book never actually talks about why he tried to kill himself. This sparks him going to a psychiatrist hospital for 2 weeks. He's not even allowed to see his sister. He's diagnosed with Autism and possible schizophrenia and bipolar. DUDE. THESE ARE ALL HUGE THINGS. And if you're going to put ALL THREE into one smol YA book, you better sure as heck do it well. This book brushed over them all. Them all. We just get given Levi who's weird and unpleasant and told "this is because he has Autism and schizophrenia". None of his diagnoses were explored and, from research I've done, none of them were done particularly accurately. I can 500% vouch for the inaccurate (and harmful) autism rep because I myself am autistic.

• Also his parents didn't notice ANY of this until Levi was 16. The kid had dropped out of school adn never left his basement but did the parents think something was wrong?? HAHA NO OF COURSE NOT.

• FYI the mother also calls Kiera a slut. I can basically just see all the parent-of-the-year award trophies crying. The actual trophies. Crying. Hmm.

Then we get golden lines like this:
She talks about the tests they've done on him and the diagnoses they're throwing around -- "autism with signs of developing schizophrenia or bipolar disorder". Those worsd, they're so harsh. You picture Hollywood mental hospitals, patients drooling in straight-jacets. My little brother can't be that far gone, he just can't be.

Ya want to chill on calling someone with Autism "that far gone"? Because if you continue, I shall fly to France, pick up a baugette myself, and hit you with it.

• And I question the "hospital" so much?? The head doctor literally sits the family down for a discussion and is like "oh and btw your son is mentally cactus!" I can't even believe it??? He just says there's no hope for him at all -- TO HIS FACE. Look psychiatrists aren't like that.

• It's very very very anti-medication. Kiera spends so much time questioning Levis' "cocktail of drugs". At least every few chapters she talks about how medication makes people zombies and how her bright sparkling little brother is "gone now" thanks to meds. ERM, WHEN DO WE REWIND TO THE TIME HE WASN'T ON MEDS AND TRIED TO KILL HIMSELF.
Dr. Pearson goes on and on, detailing all his plans to turn my brother into a cocktail of medications. He sounds like a little kid talking about his chemistry set, not a doctor with real control over someone's life -- someone who is sitting right there, big brown eyes cast downward, saying nothing, betraying no emotion.

Thank heavens Keira knows more about psychology than a trained professional.

• Speaking of Keira...let's just not, shall we? I can't even with how naive she is. She talks about how naive her brother is but WTF DUDE you literally are spending your whole savings to go to Paris to hopefully find a boy. The end. Like literally any French boy will do. A baguette even, perhaps. She's a total airhead. She has NO IDEA about anything with her brother. She treats him like a baby squirrel that needs to be protected, and spends SO MUCH TIME being like "omg the poor dear he's on all these meds and he's lost to us and my heart breaks for him". Then she turns around and ignores 100% of his needs/wants in Paris because SHE SAW A BOY. HEART EYES. HEART EYES. HEART EYES.

• Oh remember that diagnosis Levi got? But that's totes okay for his 18yo sister to trot him over to Paris. By herself. When he just tried to kill himself. And the doctors are A+ with this idea. And like she knows NOTHING about Autism or schizophrenia. NOTHING. She doesn't know what stimming is or his sensory needs or his need for routine. But then again, the book doesn't really know either because nothing about Levi's conditions are consistent. BUT WHO THE HECK DID THE DOCTORS SAY THIS WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA. HE WAS JUST IN A MENTAL HEALTH HOSPITAL.

If I suspended my disbelief any further it would turn into suspenders and I could wear them.

• Instalove? We gotcha. Tons of it. Kiera just has to SEE a boy and then she is hopelessly in love.

• The writing is odd? It has lines like, no joke, "He's awkwardly silent, but his eyes are alive..." Wow. The living boy has living eyes. I'm super relieved about this.

• The ableism is so suffocating. And there's no learning curve. Keira is learning to love her brother despite his Autism. You want to know how ridiculously insulting this is??! Here, let me tell you: IT'S RIDICULOUSLY INSULTING. How about you learn to love that person despite their brown eyes or that person despite their need for glasses. Get out, ma'am. And she busts out with lines like this ALL THE TIME:
I wish I could tell everyone "he has Autism or something" but I don't want to write him off with one word, like he isn't a full person.

If Keira changed...well...this could be okay. BUT SHE DOES NOT FRIKKIN' CHANGE. THIS IS HER MENTALITY. THIS IS THE BOOK'S MENTALITY. You know what? Autism does not lessen who you are or how much of a person you are. A label is not a a bad thing. ASD (Autism Sydnrome Disorder) is not something to be ashamed of. And the fact that books like this are out there spewing that Autism is a bad and negative thing is breaking my heart and would you please stop.

Oh and if you thought Kiera and Levi are close and love each other? Ha no. Like Kiera doesn't even come downstairs when she hears an ambulance come to take her suicidal brother to the hospital. IDK WHY BY THIS POINT. She legit hasn't done anything/spoken to him like much at all??? And then suddenly she's taking him to Paris? It's classic "oh now you're sick and I feel bad for you" and it's so dehumanising.

• Oh and it disses Twilight. For no reason at all. It's just randomly "omg Twlight is so dumb, right?!" because all the cool kids think that and this book is hip.

•#sarcasm

• #pain

The climax is actually ridiculous. Because the obvious thing is: Kiera doesn't look after her Autistic brother well enough and BOOM, bad things happen. I mean, the blurb says it. So. But it's just the whole climax is "ooooh the disabled boy runs amoke and ruins everything!" and I'm so sick of it. (view spoiler)

To me the story just felt so absurd and I couldn't even believe it. I can't believe you'd let your 18 year old air-headed daughter take your mentally ill suicidal son on a holiday to Paris. I can't believe no one tried to learn about Levi's condition, they just gave him meds and thought a holiday would help. I can't believeeeeeeee how fast the romance with some random Scottish dude happened. And I can't believe I didn't even have any croissants to snack on to get me through this.

• I might've misinterpreted the book? I might be wildly wrong. YOU might love aspects of this! I hope you do. But otherwise: I think it has an accurate and harmful portrayal of mental health and disability and all the croissants in the world couldn't calm me down on this.

• sorrryryyyyyryyyy

• farewell
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Reading Progress

August 16, 2016 – Shelved
August 16, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
May 28, 2017 – Started Reading
May 28, 2017 – Shelved as: autism
May 28, 2017 – Shelved as: contemporary
May 28, 2017 – Shelved as: read-2017
May 28, 2017 – Shelved as: young-adult
May 28, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-25 of 25 (25 new)

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message 1: by Nora Eliana (new)

Nora Eliana Oh wow that Book sounds horrible and harmful! And I hate the : I love him/her despite "insert mental illness/disorder here" BS!
And really? He has all three and his family thinks a vacation with his sister alone, who knows nothing about anything MI related, would be a good idea?
But great review and I'll make sure to stay clear of this book


message 2: by Keerthana (last edited May 28, 2017 04:59AM) (new)

Keerthana WOW! from what u say Keira is such an oblivious idiot. Like imagine if she has a friend and that person has depression. She'll be like 'Be happy!!! here Let's watch FRIENDS! It will make u happy and BOOM! ur depression will be gone.' or something like 'All u need is a guy to make u happy.'
Also the eyes being alive BS. I can only think of this



message 3: by Daisy (new)

Daisy Paquet ...holy kittens that makes me mad.
I want to hit Kiera over the head with a "cocktail I medications" myself!


message 4: by T. Renee (new)

T. Renee Doty I am so glad I found your reviews. Your honesty makes me so happy.


message 5: by Brinkley (new) - added it

Brinkley Me after reading the blurb: oh dear...

AUTISM IS NOT A SICKNESS. It's a disability/disorder.

I'm so glad you pointed out all the problems with this book--you saved me from ANOTHER bad representation! You are on a roll! You should become a superhero called "Cait the Great" whose power is thwarting all the books with bad representation.


message 6: by C.G. (new) - rated it 1 star

C.G. Drews @Nora: I know right? It's ridiculously degrading. And no one would ever let a 16yo boy, (who should presumably be on suicide watch as well?) leave the country without a proper carer. This book would made SO much more sense if he'd had a carer with him...I just shake my head at this one.

@Keerthana: I can't even with this book. I CANNOT. Also that meme omg! XD


message 7: by C.G. (new) - rated it 1 star

C.G. Drews @Daisy: The stigmas around medication are unbelievable! And no one EVER confronts Kiera about this and she doesn't change her mind. 0_0

@T.Renee: I'm glad you like my reviews! I promise they're not all so ranty as this one haha. xD

@Brinkley: Omg it makes me so angry every time I find someone calling Autism a mental illness. >_> IT'S NOT. THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH AN AUTISTIC BRAIN. And, I'm happy to help! Have you heard of On the Spectrum? It's got an excellent ASD rep AND it's also set in Paris!! It's on Netgalley if you use that!


message 8: by Emily (new)

Emily Mead LOL NOPE


La Coccinelle Haven't read the book (and probably won't), but it almost sounds like the autism was thrown in there for a really bad reason. Like to be trendy or something (because it's such a common topic today... not because autism itself is trendy). I really fail to see how someone with autism could not be diagnosed with autism until their teenage years, especially if they've got sensory issues and are stimming! Wow... It almost sounds like it would've been better to just leave the kid's problems at schizophrenia and bipolar (but then, of course, you'd lose the whole stupid baby-sitting plot, or whatever you call it when you send an autistic teen to a strange city with an unequipped teenage caretaker).

Like you said, the author tried to tackle too much. Pick a diagnosis and leave it at that. I mean, yes, in the real world people can have autism as well as other disorders or illnesses... but in fiction, you've really got to be adept at juggling all those balls or you're going to end up with an unrealistic mess.


message 10: by C.G. (new) - rated it 1 star

C.G. Drews @Emily: GOOD OPINION.

@La Coccinelle: Yes I know exactly what you mean. *sigh* I think Autism is SUCH a complex thing that if you don't know enough about it, you reeeally shouldn't try writing it. And mixing it in with schizophrenia is such a big thing because people are going to read this and think that ASD and schizophrenia have interchangeable symptoms. (Especially when NONE of the symptoms were explored or clearly defined.) It makes me so frustrated arhghg.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

This sounds like the next book to go on my official boycott list. It's exactly why I said recently, people need to get their sh** right when it comes to researching, or shut the **** up. And I know that kind of goes against my also-statement that we need to treat authors with respect when we review... But when it comes to making important issues -- like increasing social/cultural understanding of mental health and related topics -- I feel there is NO EXCUSE for spreading the ignorance and misconceptions.


message 12: by C.G. (new) - rated it 1 star

C.G. Drews @Daley: Omg I agree. I really really try not to mention authors in reviews because I don't know their reasons or how much research they've done. But like this was just such a mess. 0_0 Maybe the author does know a lot about ASD, but maybe they just purely couldn't get their knowledge through into their writing. But like the problematic levels of this is just SO HIGH I'm pretty flabbergasted. (And offended tbh.) And mixing ASD and schizophrenia together is such a problem when it's done so vaguely, because I see enough of people going "oh Autism is a mental illness" and nooooo. ;_;


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

@Cait (Paper Fury): It reminds me way too much of the mindset most physicians had in the 1950s, that autistics were "mini-schizoprenics" and that was why they needed to be hospitalized, because they'd never learn to fully control themselves or how to function. Translation: you have this condition we don't understand, so rather than study you to try to understand you (because that doesn't get us money), we'll put you on a bunch of meds so we don't have to do more work that would require people asking us awkward questions like, "Why can't you make so-and-so conform to society?" Sorry for the ramble, but that really is the nuts and bolts of it.

When Temple Grandin was a little girl, her parents were advised to put her in a "nice" institution and not worry about her. They preferred to put in the effort where the doctors wouldn't, and the world of animal science should be building statues to them to this day.

So I get *extremely* upset when I see this sort of utterly barbaric mentality being encouraged in modern media. No excuse for it.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

@Brinkley: *hurries to try to find a cape that we can add Cait The Great to in big glittery letters*


message 15: by Brinkley (new) - added it

Brinkley @Daley: I think Cait would prefer a dragon costume.


message 16: by C.G. (new) - rated it 1 star

C.G. Drews @Daley: Yes! I read a memoir of Temple Grandin and she's absolutely incredible. I don't doubt that you can have schizophrenia and ASD at the same time, but I see no good reason to mix them together in a YA book where you don't intend to really deal with either diagnosis. (Plus the crux of it was "possible schizophrenia/bipolar" so like why was the author writing about it? Just to throw really heavy words around?)

@Brinkley: Can I have a dragon costume with a cape? :D :D


message 17: by La Coccinelle (last edited May 30, 2017 05:04PM) (new) - added it

La Coccinelle The history of autism crosses over with schizophrenia, especially in the terminology. The guy who came up with the word "autism" in 1910 was actually describing traits in people with schizophrenia. Early autism researchers would use terms like "infantile schizophrenia" to refer to autism. And autism and childhood schizophrenia weren't differentiated in the DSM until 1980.

Not that that gives an author writing in 2017 an excuse. But be aware that there was an overlap at one time.


message 18: by Dorrit (new)

Dorrit God this sounds horrible. too horrible.


message 19: by Kris (new) - added it

Kris That is so extremely disappointing :/ Thank you for this review, because it's going on my "NOPE." shelf!


message 20: by Brinkley (new) - added it

Brinkley Cait, of course you can have a dragon costume with a cape. As you have made perfectly clear, you are the queen of the universe and we commenters are all just lowly pineapples.


message 21: by Laura (new)

Laura Thanks for the review and it sounds like I won't be buying it for my birthday. ASD runs in my family too and if that's how the author portrays it then it's off to the Kindle™ dustbin.
(I couldn't resist using the ™ sign.)


Ashley Just wanted to say to everyone saying this book is going on their "no" shelf that this persons review is this persons opinion. I personally really enjoyed it and I didn't see anything wrong with the way autism was represented (everyone has different experiences with autism so no two cases are going to be alike and writing this book off because it doesn't fit your idea of autism is just ignorant) and of course sometimes you are going to want to scream at the protagonist for not doing what you would do (that's just a part of reading a book) and I do actually know that the author has an autistic brother so the point of view she's writing from is her own, it's not made up and she's not making things seem different to fit a story. She wrote the story around him and their relationship.


message 23: by C.G. (new) - rated it 1 star

C.G. Drews @Ashley: You make an excellent point -- me saying "no" is exactly the same as you saying "yes". People are not sheep. They can read reviews and make up their minds. Just be aware that coming onto someone's review to tell the review that they're (a) ignorant, and (b) that their followers shouldn't listen to them, is the equivalent of me coming onto your review and saying how much I hated the book and that you're wrong and being rude in your comment section. It just doesn't make sense and I wouldn't do that. Let people have opinions and don't even worry about it.


message 24: by Charley (new)

Charley Robson Oh my giblets, screw this book. Screw it with a rusty salad fork. One of the students I was looking after during work experience (autistic herself) was reading it, and I kid you not I came back from a loo break and she was CRYING. This book upset her so much she CRIED. In front of complete strangers.

It wasn't even the portrayal - she said to me after she'd settled down that it was the way Levi's autism was described to other people. She couldn't get away from the thought of "is that how people think of me?" to the point it made her break down.

Any book that can drive a teenager to tears out of self loathing when it packages itself as inclusive and supportive needs to die in a fire. Also hornets. Fiery hornets of doom.


message 25: by C.G. (new) - rated it 1 star

C.G. Drews @Charley: holy hell that's why books like this are really damaging and harmful. I can't even with how angry I am right now having heard that. I really feel for your friend. I hate to say book's rep of something is disgusting, but that's honestly how I feel about this book.


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