Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Guest Book Review and Giveaway: We’ll Always Have Paris

By Allie Smith

**Giveaway is now closed**

I love to travel, especially with my children. Seeing new places together is always fun and introducing them to places I love is a personal thrill. I also treasure the memories we create together, and the camaraderie that we share, which can’t be duplicated at home. On our journeys, it’s us against the world! So I was excited to read this travel memoir about the European adventures of a mother and her daughter. And I adore the title, We’ll Always have Paris.

Jennifer, the mother, lost her dad to cancer when she was nineteen. Since his passing, she’s had a fatalistic view of life, feeling as if she were living on borrowed time. When she had her daughter, Katie, her fears were amplified. I get this, because I lost my mom when I was eighteen. Sometimes I look at my oldest child, who’s thirteen, and think - what if I only have five more years left with him? Jennifer wants to give her daughter special memories and teach her all the life lessons that she can, in case something happens to her. Fortunately, Katie doesn’t know that her mom has these dark thoughts. Jennifer’s fear of dying has evolved in to a fear of living.

Jennifer decides to take Katie to Europe, so she can show her daughter some of the world. If something happens to her, Katie can say, “We’ll always have Paris.” Lucky Katie, I certainly wish my mom had had similar notions! Paris is the first stop on their inaugural trip, when Katie is eight years old. Over eight years, the pair embark on four trips, traveling throughout France, England, Italy, Spain and Amsterdam. How cool is that?

This book however, is more than a mom memoir or a travelogue, it’s also story of grief. Losing a parent is an ache that never really goes away, flaring up periodically like a virus you just can’t shake. Jennifer’s memories of her father are interwoven with moments she and Katie share on their adventures. By remembering her father, being inspired by her vivacious daughter, traveling outside her comfort zone (quite literally) and challenging herself to have fun and enjoy life, Jennifer starts to break free of her fears and anxieties. It’s a joy to see this happen. It’s a shame that she’s lived most of her life encumbered by her grief, because she knows all too well how precious time is.

Coburn is a seasoned writer, having numerous chick lit books to her credit. Her voice shines through as she eloquently and frankly tells her story with vivid descriptions of people and places. Her love for her late father is poignant and she successfully brings him alive on the pages. Now I miss him! The book is well balanced, just when something made me sad, Coburn instinctively lightens the mood with her humor. This memoir was a joy to read - a great choice for mothers, daughters and readers with a case of wanderlust. Jennifer’s a very cool chick - I’d love to travel with her.

Allie Smith, a former CPA who five years into her career decided that she hated working with numbers and willingly gave it all up to be a stay-at-home mom, lives in suburban Atlanta with her husband and four children. In between carpool, play dates and refereeing the kids, she loves to read and write. The mother of a child with autism, she is currently working on a memoir of their journey. She can be found at her blog.

Thanks to Sourcebooks for the book in exchange for an honest review. They also have TWO copies to share with some lucky readers in the US and/or Canada!

How to win:
Please tell us something special that a parent has shared with you OR something special that you would like to share with your child(ren). (Or you can just tell us the vacation you'd like to put on your bucket list.)

One entry per person.

Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win. Entries without contact information will NOT be counted.

US/Canada only. Giveaway ends April 13th at midnight EST.

More by Jennifer Coburn:


Janine said...

I really haven't had anything good that a parent has shared with me. I don't have any children either. So, I will share one vacation I would love that is on my bucket list. Paris is definitely on there (among several others). I would love to see this fabulous city that I dream of all the time.

Unknown said...

My dad, who just passed this last Christmas, told me as a child that I had already won the biggest lottery of all just by being born. I have definitely shared this thought with my own kids.

Bonnie K. said...

I shared my love of classical music with my daughters. On car trips, they would sing some songs from musicals such as Man of La Mancha. Both of my daughters love Peter O'Toole. They are also well-rounded when it comes to music--pop, rap, rock, jazz, opera, etc..

bluedawn95864 at gmail dot com

Anita Yancey said...

A vacation that I would love on my bucket list is Hawaii. I have always wanted to go. Thanks for having the giveaway.


Carl Scott said...

My parents used to take us camping. It was fun for kids and we learned to appreciate trees and wildlife as a result. Those were some of our most fun times together.


bn100 said...

cookie recipe

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

bn100 said...

cookie recipe

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Katherine said...

I went on a trip with my dad to Washington DC. Every other trip I had gone on was a family one, so this time was special between the two of us.

krosenk729 at gmail

pascale said...

My father was a Pan Am captain (retired now). We traveled everywhere, at the drop of a hat. I even remember going to france for a weekend after i graduated from college to visit my grandparents. I was spoiled rotten!

Donna E said...

One year when hubby, daughter, and I went to visit my parents, my daddy thought we should go to the Albuquerque Zoo and the Aquarium. Mother was on oxygen so we had her in a wheel chair [daughter pushed her and ran her into a low wall -- we still laughed about that until Mother died and even since]. I think Daddy should have used a wheel chair as well as his legs, hips, and back hurt terribly. But he wanted to show us the sights and for us to have a good time.

susieqlaw said...

My parents, especially when I was growing up, have always given me the one thing kids seem to want most...their time (spending time with me) and a supportive home to be the free spirit that I am.

sendsusanmail at gmail dot com

Caroline N. said...

I would have to say the best thing my parents shared with me was taking me to Alaska with them. It's a very different story traveling when you are little with your parents and when you are an adult. Great memories in a gorgeous state.

jpetroroy said...

I can't wait to share trips to the beach.

Nova said...

My Mom shared her love of plants & flowers. My Dad shares his love of re-purposing items from yard sales, thrift stores, flea-markets.
I share with my kids the benefits of being thrifty with their money.

MAS Bookworm said...

Since I was a in middle school, it was always my dream to go to Paris. Let me just say my mom is finally making my dream come true this year (def best sharing) ! You can contact me at

KrisM said...

Three years ago, I took my mom to Paris. It was her first time out of the US and had always been a dream of hers (she even studied French in high school!). Would LOVE to win a copy of this book to give to my mom. It would be a lovely reminder to her our our days together touring the Seine, the Louvre, Notre Dame, Montmartre...

Ro said...

My mom and I shared recipes. Now that she is gone I think of her every time I use the recipes.

Melissa said...

Thanks to everyone for participating!

Thanks to Sourcebooks for sharing the book with our winners. chose TWO winners from all entries with contact info (one entry per person).

Congrats to:
Anita Yancey