Excerpt: 'A Model Summer' by Paulina Porizkova

In her debut novel, model and actress Paulina Porizkova follows Jirina, a gawky 15-year-old Swedish girl who spends the summer in Paris as a model.

In the process, Jirina experiences life's highs -- wild parties, feeling beautiful -- and lows -- womanizing photographers and unfriendly fellow models.

Porizkova, who is married to musician Ric Ocasek, is also the author of a children's book. The following is an excerpt.

Chapter 1

June 1980.

It's not as if I'm scared to fly.

Even after the divorce, my mother usually scraped together enough money to take us on a reduced-fare vacation each year. But this trip is different. My mother, her ever-changing boyfriends, and my little sister Kristynka are still snugly ensconced in our small apartment back in Lund, while I am on my way to Paris, alone.

Well, alone except for Britta, whom I met less than an hour ago here at the airport. After introducing ourselves, we immediately sized each other up. Britta, with her long golden hair, dark eyes, and soft curves is nearly my exact physical opposite. I have straight brown hair cut in a bob, pale green eyes, and am as tall and flat-chested as the guys in my ninth-grade class. That I got selected for the high-fashion world of models not only confused my classmates, but also made me suspect I was the target of some elaborate joke. I still half expect someone to pop up from behind a hidden camera and laugh in my face, like on that American TV show.

"Flight 343, final boarding call," a female voice announces over the loudspeakers.

I look over at Britta. She is standing with her mom near the security gate, hugging tearful good-byes as I wait on the other side. My own mother had full confidence in my ability to make it to the airport by myself, though the trip entailed three buses, a ferry to Denmark, and an additional bus ride to the terminal. "If you can't get to the airport on your own," she said, "how are you going to model in Paris all by yourself?"

"What would you ladies like to drink?" the stewardess asks with the kind of smile all flight attendants seem to spray on before starting their shifts. "We have a nice red Jacques Dubois, Beaujolais Village, and a crisp white Burgundy."

My jaw drops to the vicinity of my knees. This is the first time anyone has taken me for a grown-up. I nudge Britta. She may be my modeling competition, but right now, she is also my only potential friend. What better way to break the ice than to share in the bounty of a stewardess who has mistaken us for alcohol-worthy adults? But Britta looks as though she's fallen asleep.

"What?" she moans, and opens her eyes.

"Drinks," I tell her, wide-eyed, nodding toward the wine bottles held up for our inspection.

The stewardess, seeing my expression, retracts the bottle and her grin, and grabs a can of Coke. "A soft drink, perhaps?"

We each get a Coke, Britta completely unaware of our missed opportunity.

She sits up and rubs her eyes. "Sorry, I must have dozed off -- I had a late night with Lars yesterday." She sighs. "He's worried I'm gonna forget about him or something, you know, being around all those gorgeous French male models and stuff. But I told him -- 'Look,' I said -- 'I'm sixteen and you're twenty; if we find somebody else, then it just wasn't meant to be, right?'"

I nod understandingly, as if I ever had a real boyfriend. Bengt hardly counts.

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