Book: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton Books
Release date: December 2, 2010
Source: For What It's Worth Book Tours
Summary: (from Goodreads) Anna 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 Étienne St. Clair: 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?
First impressions: Anna has a really strong voice that captures your attention immediately. She reads like an authentic teenager without bombarding you with emoticons or a crazy amount of slang. She's immediately likable in a real way. I want her to be my new best friend.
Lasting impressions: I. Love. Etienne St. Clair. So if Anna was my new best friend, we'd be having some words. Or be engaging in some light fisticuffs. Because Etienne? Is perfect.
Conflicting impressions: Despite the hype and general ga-ga fest over this book, I did have a few issues with it. There were times everything felt a bit too easy for Anna. She moves in, and becomes insta-best-friends with her next door neighbor, who just happens to be the first person she meets. Talk about lucky!
The nasty mean girl character, Amanda, is a bit over the top for my tastes. I don't mind having a girl who is nasty, but Amanda has no reason to be nasty, and in a school of only 100 people, I don't think a girl could afford to be that unpleasant. Girls are bratty and cliquish and snobby, yes, but I don't think they can get away with highway robbery while in the close confines of an incredibly small boarding school. I could be wrong, but in my experiences Amanda seemed not that realistic.
Overall impressions: From start to finish, this is a very solid book. Anna is funny, unique, smart, if not a bit dependent. Her flaws make her more honest to the reader, so I forgave her for being occasionally obtuse and ignorant. I mean, she wants to be a film critic and is obsessed with movies, but doesn't know that Paris is like film Mecca? Really?
Etienne St. Clair, Anna's love interest (and pretty much everyone else's in the book, too - he's the Mary Sue for dudes), also can be a bit aggravating. He's in love with Anna from the minute he sees her, yet draaaaaaags out his relationship with Ellie. In the end, we're not given much of an explanation for why he holds on to Ellie for so long, other than that we needed more obstacles for Anna.
Similarly, Anna runs into some sub-plots that really didn't do much for me. She overreacts to an incident involving Bridgette, her best friend back home, only to have it resolved in the end with a Big Reveal that ties to every other problem she and Etienne have been struggling with. Oy. She also dates a guy who turns out to be a Big Fat Jerk and spreads vicious rumors about her around school. It was very Skeet Ulrich from The Craft movie, and induced some major eye rolling from me.
What was amazing, however, was how nicely things all came together in the end. Anna really grows as a person from spending time in France, despite her major hesitancy at the beginning. She starts out as a terrified little girl, and grows into a mature young woman. She learns to trust herself as a capable adult who can go out in the world and make things happen, and she also learns to trust her feelings. She has to navigate the difficult world of teen boy, trying to decipher the truth from her imagination.
Seriously, haven't we all been there? There's nothing more anxiety-riddled than figuring out if the boy you like does indeed love you back. It's a hundred times worse when you're friends, because you don't know how to reveal yourself without losing him forever if he doesn't feel the same way. Stephanie Perkins captures that back-and-forth flirting with such ease that I never wanted to stop reading.
Bottom line? This book is an adorable love story between two kids just trying to figure themselves out. It's funny, sweet, and refreshing. The characters are interesting, the setting is perfect, and it was a blast to read. I think everyone would love this book, and you should RUN to go get a copy.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Want a different perspective? Check out the other reviews from the For What It's Worth book tour.