Thursday, January 17, 2008

[Book Review] A MODEL SUMMER by Paulina Porizkova


Andrea Bledsoe reviews A MODEL SUMMER by Paulina Porizkova (Hyperion, 2007)

One of the best aspects of my job as a LA (library assistant), believe it or not, is shelving books. As monotonous as the actual task is, the flip side is that I get to find titles and authors I may not have known about already. A perfect example is Ms. Porizkova’s novel, A Model Summer. Paulina Porizkova is well-known as a fashion model, but I had no idea that she is a writer! Discovering novels like this one is where shelving books came in handy.

A Model Summer begins in 1980 in Paris, France where everything and everyone is beautiful and glamorous. In the midst of all this opulence is young, 14 year-old Jirina (pronounced Yee-ree-na). Jirina grew up in Sweden taking care of her younger sister, with whom she formed a sisterly alliance against their cruel, abusive mother. Her life was that of an ordinary teenager, complete with her feeling too gawky and too ugly, until her photographs grab the attention of Jean-Pierre, owner of Paris’ Siren modeling agency. After Jirina has her 15th birthday, she is invited by Jean-Pierre to give modeling a try.

Her world is turned completely upside down once she arrives in Paris. Wild parties, glamorous photo shoots, and new experiences are hurled at Jirina. Although there is the undercurrent of nervous tension abuzz everywhere, at the end of the day, Jirina is still a stranger in a strange land. I felt compassion for Jirina because even though her associates think she is worldly and sophisticated, she is still that lonely, gawky teenager.

I enjoyed this story by Ms. Porizkova because I imagined that it was based on real-life experiences. I also could relate somewhat with Jirina. Even though I have never modeled or even been to Paris, I have been that awkward, insecure teenager. As it states on the novel’s dust jacket, this “is a searing look at a world many people fantasize about, but few really know.”

Andrea Bledsoe, Poplar-White Station Branch Library

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