Friday, June 28, 2013

Book Review: "Anna and the French Kiss"

"Anna and the French Kiss" by Stephanie Perkins
First published in 2010
372 pages
My rating: 3.5 out of 5
(image source)

"Anna and the French Kiss" was cute, light, quick and decently written, but to be honest I just can't fathom why it's so popular with adult readers.

It's basically a quintessential teen love story. Against her wishes, Anna's romance novelist father ships her off to boarding school in Paris for her senior year. Anna is angry and terrified -- she misses her friends and family, and she knows no French beyond "merci" and "oui" and barely anything about France.

One of her new friends is handsome, smart and charismatic British/American/
French Etienne St. Clair. He takes pity on Anna, who a couple weeks into school has still not ventured off the school campus. Anna is instantly attracted to St. Clair -- as is every other girl at the School of America in Paris -- but she can't fathom that he would possibly return her feelings. Plus he has a serious girlfriend -- Ellie, who graduated from SOAP last year and is attending an arts university in Paris -- and Anna left behind a budding romance in Atlanta. And to make matters even more complicated, Anna and St. Clair's mutual good friend, Mer, is clearly in love with St. Clair.

As they explore Paris together (food, architecture and films, oh my!) and become best friends, their growing attraction for each other is always lingering in the background. But after several missed opportunities, it seems they just may not be destined to be together.

I really liked both Anna and St. Clair. For a YA novel, the characters were fairly dynamic and interesting. And I think this would be a fantastic book for a teenager -- it's realistic (i.e. sex and drinking and cheating on a test and faithfulness to a partner are all mentioned) but Anna doesn't do anything crazy. She's a virgin, her one night of drinking (which is legal in France) ends rather horribly, and despite what she thinks about herself at times she is a pretty good role model.

I saw this book popping up in several places and decided to check it out but, as I mentioned, I'm really not sure why adults are so enamored with "Anna and the French Kiss." It didn't have any of the broader implications that make other YA books (like "Hunger Games") really popular with adults. It was really just a sweet teen romance. So if that's your thing, or if you just need a fun and fluffy read between more serious books, by all means check it out.

(P.S. Perkins very obviously modeled Anna's author father after Nicholas Sparks. I don't know what the man ever did to her, but apparently she really hates his guts!)

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