An awkward, curious girl growing up in a foreign country, Stephanie LaCava finds solace and security in strange and beautiful objects. When her father's mysterious job transports her and her family to the Parisian suburb of Le Vesinet, the young American embarks on a life of discovery. Tasting the enchantments of Paris, she makes friends with her peers at a wildly unconventional international school and faces terrorism. But Stephanie's wonder gives way to anxiety and a deep depression brought on by a series of circumstances.Through her darkest moments, Stephanie continues to filter the world through her peculiar lens, discovering the strange beauty surrounding her. The grotesque (beetles and catacombs), the natural (mushrooms and lilies of the valley) the cultural (Nirvana and other nineties touchstones) and the historical (Nancy Cunard, Jean Seberg), all become unique talismans. Encouraged by her father through trips to museums and scavenger hunts in antique shows, she traces an interconnected web of stories of past outsiders, historical and natural objects, and her present predicament that ultimately helps her survive when she feels she's losing control.A
Fashion writer Lavaca's childhood and teenage years were strange and confounding. The author's family moved from New York to a Parisian suburb in 1993 when she was 12; the next year she suffered a breakdown. Always considered a bit strange as a child, she found solace and a sense of order in collecting objects. She had a passion for ancient mythologies: "I was obsessed with cabinets of curiosities, historical efforts to catalog and control nature's oddities," Lacava writes. As an adult Lacava began looking back over her life "through a narrative illuminated with objects and their respective stories." As the author began researching her objects, she discovered unlikely links between them and "certain people who reappeared throughout the stories" of such objects as a skeleton key found in the backyard of her new home in France; a fiery antique opal necklace found on the sidewalk following a jaunt to a neighborhood sweet shop; a CD containing Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit"; and the camera she always carried on her journeys around France. "For me, it is my story of conquering another world, a place where in order to survive I needed to seek out wonder," Lacava explains. In the end, this is an unusual journey through one girl's material and sometimes painful interior world. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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December 03, 2012
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