Nora Parker-Holmes has ambitions to become an artist, following in the footsteps of her famous grandfather. She gets accepted into a training program for young artists in Ireland and plans to spend her whole summer abroad in Europe by herself, exploring the different cities. However, her solo plans to admire the art and architecture of Europe are crushed when her mother decides to join her on this trip so they can “bond”.
When the first page of this book mentions a Harry/Draco fan fiction illustration that Nora is drawing, I am immediately hooked in. And the Harry Potter and other pop culture references don’t stop there. They are all throughout the story! Beyond that though, I loved this book where the protagonist is an artist, dreams of being a professional artist, yet is faced with a parent who is not giving her the support she’s hoping for in her career choice. Schwartz does a really good job at depicting a difficult mother in Nora’s mom, Alice. While this character has her reasons, she really makes some ridiculous and unreasonable choices that only adds to the tension between her and Nora – and is infuriating to read. I also love that while there was a romance part to the story, it wasn’t the entire focus. At the heart of it, this book is about Nora and even with the cast of supporting characters, the narrative stays true to that.
Perhaps it’s the artistic side in me showing through, but I felt really connected to Nora as a character. Her desire to be independent and pursue a career in the arts despite outside opinions felt relatable for anyone who has wanted to work in the creative field, I’m sure. What struck me as even more poignant though was her journey throughout the cities she’s visiting. Not only was she seeing the world but she grew emotionally as well. It’s not always easy when dreams and reality finally collide, and Nora does some soul-searching as a result of that.
I absolutely adored this book – a great read for the summer! It’s full of jetsetting, sight-seeing adventures, relationships, and finding one’s self. Reminiscent of Adi Alsaid’s Let’s Get Lost, And We’re Off has similar heartwarming moments amongst tales of friendship and bonding. I loved Schwartz’s narrative voice and look forward to her future books.