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When a summer scholarship frees her from her Grey Gardens- like house and the burden of tending to her severely anxious, agoraphobic mother, high school student Vidalia is thrilled to be studying painting in Paris. First-novelist Watson throws Vidalia some easy pitches: the cute young (and good-hearted) Frenchman at Shakespeare & Co. immediately makes an overture, and when the art teacher trains his Gallic scorn on her, another student helps her shrug it off. But instead of embarking on a flowers-and-baguette romance, Vidalia chooses darker territory: a seductive bad boy pushes her limits, beginning with ditching a restaurant bill on their first date and escalating to art heists. The story lines support each other gracefully. For example, Vidalia repeatedly sketches a single painting all summer, unable to get the girl's face right, which mirrors her own search for self. And even though the crime element never entirely convinces, it energetically drives the plot and forces readers to understand Vidalia's need for escape. Plus, the ripe scenes of dinner on a Paris rooftop, beaches in Cannes and quiet interiors of out-of-the-way museums provide readers with an escape of their own. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.