Time travel at its most historically teach-y. I learned a lot about the Dreyfus affair, but the time travel elements of this story were too unbelievable. Mira keeps traveling back and forth from our time to various times in the late nineteenth century, and she meets many of the same people at different key points in their lives: Degas, Monet, Mary Cassatt, Emile Zola. The problem is that none of these people seem too surprised or inquisitive when she stays the same age, but shows up at five and ten year gaps in their nineteenth century lives.
There’s a bit of romance thrown into the mix when Mira gets a crush on Degas’s assistant, Claude, but this element, too, is spoiled by the time lapse time-traveling that Mira does. Claude gets older Mira doesn’t. Her main mission, to find a way to motivate people to defend Dreyfuss and nip French anti-Semitism in the bud meets with mixed success at best, probably because history didn’t really turn out that way, did it?
Marissa Moss is the author of the very popular Dear Amelia series of diary/graphic novel/picture books for younger readers. This diary, the first in a projected series, is for older middle grade young people, and the fact that it has a Jewish protagonist is refreshing. However, I don’t think I can get my middle grade readers to try this one on the basis of their love for the Amelia books. It’s just too different, even though it does have some drawings included in the text since Mira is an artist. The sequel to Mira’s Diary: Lost in Paris is Mira’s Diary: Home Sweet Rome, due out in April, 2013. In this second one, Mira goes time-traveling again and meets the sixteenth century artist Carvaggio, so the art theme carries on through the series.