Category Archives: Nikki Grimes

The Road to Paris

When your foster mother locks you up in a closet and beats you regularly, escape becomes the only real option. Where do you go when there’s nowhere left to run?

Eight-year-old Paris and her older brother Malcom guessed their best chance was Grandmother.  Mother was too drunk and lonely to care. Grandma coolly informed them that she had already raised her children. Within three days, Malcom was dragged from Grandma’s apartment as tears streamed down his face. On that morning, Children’s Services took away the only person in Paris’ life who really cared.

The next day, Paris found herself in a train racing along the Hudson River. Her case worker promised Paris she would like her new foster care family. The Lincolns had a reputation for being “good people”.  She shivered when she entered her tiny bedroom. Memories of the brutal weeks locked in a closet flooded over her. What was going to happen to her in her new home?

Abandoned and defenseless, Paris faces the future with a deep fear and loneliness born  from the unending rejections that defined her life. Trust comes hard, especially after racism shatters one of her first friendships in the new city. Paris experiences moments of beauty like stars emerging in the night sky. The grand notes of a church organ stun her. An invitation to sing in the choir fills her with joy. As the days pass, slowly Paris learns what it’s like to live in a house without fear. When the telephone rings and her own mother’s voice echoes in her ears, Paris knows she has big decisions ahead of her. This time, it’s finally a path of her own choosing.

Nikki Grimes is a voice for children who know the pain of abandonment, racism, and vicious cruelty. Her story rises with compelling clarity, drawing us into the quiet hope that Paris will find the love and security of a real home and a loving family.

The Road to Paris is a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Nikki Grimes is a New York Times bestselling author and recipient of the 2017 Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, the 2016 Virginia Hamilton Literary Award, and the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children.

–Kate Calina