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Romancing the Dark in the City of Light by Ann Jacobus


Topics of Interest: death, substance abuse, Paris, familial expectations, friendship, teenage angst, handicaps

Curriculum Connections: English, Health and Physical Education

Gender: F/M

Age: 14+

Blurb: I always thought it would be fun to attend a boarding school. No parents…awesome! It would be like being away at camp all of the time but without the annoying mosquitos. Of course in my mind the boarding school would be co-ed, on a beach in the Carribbean. Or be Hogwarts, because that would rock.

Summer Barnes just got kicked out of her fourth boarding school, and now she’s in Paris with her mom. You’d think she’d be happy. Despite being in the city of light, Summer is drawn to the darker side of Paris—specifically Kurt, a mysterious young man who appears nearly everywhere Summer goes. He introduces Summer to Paris’s tunnels, and more frightening, its catacombs where thousands of skeletons remain in their final resting place.

Summer has a difficult enough time saying no to the destructive power of alcohol—and now she has Kurt to worry about. What is it about bad boys? She WANTS to love likeable, kind, thoughtful Moony, but…

Why does bad always feel so good?

Flavour: “’While we’re on the subject, you do understand that PAIS absolutely will not tolerate the use of drugs or alcohol?’ [the school counselor stated]. Summer knows to look directly at her interrogator. ‘Yes I do.’ Before shuttling her to the airport, the disciplinary committee at St. Jude’s played her the grainy clip that some brainless freshman videoed—and the dean confiscated—of her staggering hammered across the dorm lobby and then face-planting outside in the hedge. If only someone were casting for a last-one-standing party reality show, she thinks wistfully. She’d be a shoo-in.” (17)

“To her left, a small chamber opens and through it, she can see what looks like four-foot-high wall made of small, round, loose stones. The guy shines the flashlight on them. Hardly stones, it’s a neat stack of hundreds of human thigh bones, the round, bulbous end facing out. Several jawless skulls are arranged artistically in the piles at intervals. ‘Ohmigod,’ she says. The catacombs. They’re in the catacombs underneath the city: 186 mazelike miles of quarries mined in the Middle Ages for rock to build Paris. In the late 1700s as the cemeteries were filling up, they began storing bones down here. Or so her mini-guidebook says.” (120)

“Escaping Kurt is critical. She underestimated him. She’s got to do it for Moony, too. It would be impossible to explain, but she can’t focus on him, or even be around him now. If she can get free of Kurt’s corrosive, poisonous influence, then she can concentrate on Moony.” (179)

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