Mira is shocked when she receives a postcard from her missing mother from Paris. Her father decides it's time for a trip to France to search for her. While visiting Notre Dame, Mira touches a gargoyle and is whirled into the past. There she meets the famous painter Degas and catches a brief, shocking glimpse of her mother. Mira begins to suspect that her mom didn't run out on them but is a prisoner of the past. Can one family on an incredible worldwide adventure stop a plot in time?
This book had two of my favourite things: historical non-fiction, and Paris, so honestly, it's hard to see where it could go wrong. Moss has tackled a difficult and somewhat obscure bit of French history with Mira's Diary, Lost in Paris and what's more she's sought to make it intriguing story telling to the Middle grade age-set. Challenging to say the least, but I thought she did an extraordinary job of it, especially after reading the extensive authors note about the actual history of the Dreyfus Affair.
The jumping back and forth in time, the travel through historical and modern day Paris, Mira's relationship with her dad and brother and all the intriguing antidotes about the impressionists were what really made this story for me. I think Moss hit the right notes of the historical bits, by sticking to personal antidotes and speculation that are much more intriguing than the dry historical facts, and I can only imagine that Lost in Paris will inspire a load of kids to look at history with more interest then they did previously.
My only issue with the story was with the sub-plot line with Mira's mom. I like the idea that's she was previously a time traveller, and that Mira's dad is aware of her past (plus it obviously helps the plot substantially, a little girl disappearing on her dad and time travelling would otherwise be very hard to explain). I'm also a fan of the mystery surrounding wether she's the bad guy or the good guy in this story, however I find her peculiar notes and instructions to Mira obnoxious. There is no mother on gods green earth who would A) want her daughter to be cruising through time on her own, and B) not doing everything in her power to help and protect her, so I find her non-informative notes and running away on sight not very believable. Although it's explained away by rule-breaking, I have to point out that she's breaking more than enough rules already, that I hardly think it would stop her.
Despite this minor issue (Mira's dad and brother more than make up for the lacking development in Mira's mom), I enjoyed this quick paced story and look forward to where Moss is taking the reader next. A little birdie told me it's Rome.
Mira's Diary, by Marissa Moss
Published by Sourcebooks
My copy kindly provided by the publisher