Saturday, February 19, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French KissAnna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets √Čtienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?

Okay first of all, what is so bad about spending your senior year in Paris away from your parents?  That would have been the perfect place for me my senior year!  I may still be there writing to you  right now if I'd had that opportunity.  But, I guess it did kind of suck leaving her best friend behind and the guy she thought she had a chance with, Toph, (can't stand that name! Sorry Topher Grace) and her job that she loves.

Anyway the story is great if a little tiring, almost with St. Clair/Etienne (always loved that name) then not with him.  That happened a little longer than necessary for me.  But it certainly drove the story.  I love that the story was told from Anna's point of view so we can hear her thoughts, her typical insecurities and her oh, I had no idea moments, which she has a lot of.  What I wonder is, are there that many beautiful girls wandering around the world that really don't know they are beautiful?  If I was beautiful, I mean, men turn around and look at me beautiful, I think I could look in the mirror and know that I am that beautiful.  But in several novels, including this one,  there are girls that beautiful that don't seem to know it.  It's not a flaw in Anna, I'm just wondering if beautiful girls don't really know they are beautiful.  I think Anna's insecurities are her charm and her downfall, in that she keeps missing her chance with St. Clair.  Then her obsession becomes her downfall when she forgets everyone but him.

As for St. Clair, I don't think he makes himself too clear about what he wants.  He's got a girlfriend, but he's been flirting like crazy with Anna almost since the night she arrived.  And then there is Thanksgiving and the calls over Christmas.  But, his intentions are never clear.  He's such a guy.  He doesn't put himself out there in case he might get hurt.  But he's always there for Anna, appearing out of nowhere sometimes.

I think the characters of Anna and St. Clair could be stereotypical, but the author gives them flaws that make them vulnerable and less perfect.  It makes them more believable and relateable and therefore, the story realistic.  It's anything but a typical teenage romance novel, but that is what it is, a romance novel and it had me from the moment Anna and St. Clair met.  I was hoping for a sequel but the ending is complete.  I just loved those two characters so much.

I didn't feel the friendship between Meredith and Anna, but Anna herself admits to neglecting that relationship.  I felt her relationship with Rashmi was more believable because Rashmi gets angry with her, talks to her about Josh and her family and opens up in general.  We never even hear what she and Meredith talk about and then there's the huge pink elephant in the room where they are concerned.  Her friendship with Josh is kind of an extension of that with St. Clair and Rashmi.  Sometimes he's a welcome relief, sometimes he's interfering.  But he's definitely not someone she can confide in.  Her real confidante is St. Clair and that friendship does feel real whether the two are in love or not.

I like teenage romance books.  They are so happy, for the most part.  No worrying about paying the bills and getting the kids to school.  It's just about romance.  For that, I love this book.  For reminding me about teenage romance.  I've got a teenager and I want to remember why teenage crushes and first loves were so special.  This book helped me remember all that does he/ doesn't he and all the ups and downs that first romance brings.  It was so much fun looking back at that time, but I wouldn't live it over in a million years.  Only with today's wisdom would I be a teenager again.  Maybe.

And, although I don't think the author actually went to Paris, I think I read that, she sure made me feel like I was there with her descriptions of the different quarters and the shops and restaurants and the monuments.  I haven't been to Paris (my parents didn't send me to boarding school for my senior year of high school) but if I ever go I'll let you know if she was accurate.  The descriptions of the American Tourists in Paris with their Euro Disney shirts on -Really? You go to Paris to see Euro Disney?  Go to Florida or California.  And the others with their American Flag shirts on was priceless.  I could see it like I was walking along a street in Paris and I guarantee if the men didn't have white sneakers on they had Jesus sandals on with dark socks pulled as high as they would go.  Anna had the same preconceived notions about Parisians hating Americans that my husband has and why I won't be making the trip over any time soon.  But it was funny to read those same things he had said and to see St. Clair dismiss them until they saw the tourists.  You just can't dismiss that no matter what!!

I think this novel is appropriate for 13 and up.  There is some drinking, but it's legal in Paris.  It's excessive but only once or twice it's not a running theme in the novel.  And the hangovers are described quite accurately so maybe it would be good to hear how awful excessive drinking feels the next day!

I have to say I found myself smiling a lot as I read this novel.  Even when I reread passages so I could write my review.  I think it's one I will definitely keep.  We all need books that bring a smile to our face even if we only read a page or two.  I think the longer this book sits with me, the more in love with it I will be.


  1. awesome review! i have this one and can't wait to read it!

  2. I just bought this book. I'm really looking forward to reading it, I've been hearing so many great things about it.


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