Stephanie Perkins – Anna and the French Kiss
Length: 384 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Started: 18 March 2011
Finished: 19 March 2011
Where did it come from? Snagged as a freebie Kindle download back in November.
Why do I have it? I’m a pretty indiscriminate downloader of free Kindle books, but I’d actually heard that this one was worthwhile.
I guess “Anna and
the Flirty French Boy with a
Girlfriend” didn’t fit.
Summary: Anna Oliphant was all ready for a nice, normal senior year of high school, but that was before her father, a famous author, decided that she needed to spend senior year going to school in Paris… where she knows no one. And doesn’t even speak the language. Anna’s dreading a year away from her family, her best friend Bridget, and her sort-of-maybe crush Topher. As soon as school starts, however, Anna decides that things might not be all bad. She’s made some friends, including Étienne St. Clair, one of the most handsome and charming boys in school. She starts falling for him, and it seems like he might be returning her interest. But he’s got a girlfriend who’s every bit as perfect as he is, so his flirting is probably just wishful thinking on Anna’s part… or is it?
Review: I read a lot of YA, but they’re mostly genre novels; I read very few straight-up contemporary YA books (except for John Green, almost none.) But if Anna and the French Kiss is any indication of what I’ve been missing, I’m going to have to seriously rethink my reading habits. Because it was great. Not perfect, and not serious literature, but thoroughly charming, fun, fluffy, flirty brain candy, and I had a blast reading it. (Not to mention that I devoured it in less than 24 hours; both because it’s a fast read and because I kept wanting to drop everything else and go back to reading it.)
In addition to all of that, it has a number of smaller points in its favor. It’s well-written, funny, and very able to capture the feeling of a high school romance – there were a number of scenes where Perkins got the sweaty-palms awkwardness down so well that I was almost convinced that she’d been spying on me during my own high school years. She’s also very good at evoking Paris – or at the very least, of making me want to go back there and spend a few days wandering around the Latin Quarter with a cute boy. And Étienne is very cute, a thoroughly crush-able leading man, despite the fact that he’s way too short for me. To top things off, it’s a boarding school story! That right there would have been enough to sell me, even if it weren’t for the other good points.
He shifts. I have the strangest feeling that he’s as aware of me as I am of him. I can’t concentrate. The characters on the screen are squabbling, but for the life of me, I don’t know what about. How long have I not been paying attention?
St. Clair coughs and shifts again. His leg brushes against mine. It stays there. I’m paralyzed. I should move it; it feels too unnatural. How can he not notice his leg is touching my leg? –Location 1316
There were a few not-so-good points, too. First is that it is predictable as hell; any reader worth her salt can give you the basic plot outline without knowing anything more than the back-cover copy. That’s actually not as bad as it may seem: instead of the suspenseful tension of a will-they-or-won’t-they (because of course they will eventually), we get the giddy anticipation of a hurry-up-and-“will-they”-already. And, as any romance reader knows, anticipation is at least half the fun. More problematic for me was the lack of characterization on some of the secondary characters. The leads are interesting and well-developed, but a lot of the other characters felt a little flat. This particularly bothered me with Ellie, Étienne’s girlfriend. She wasn’t on screen often, but when she was, she was basically an unrelenting bitch, and it would have added a more interesting layer to the story if she’d had a few more shades of grey.
Regardless, I enjoyed the heck out of this book, and will definitely be looking for Perkins’s next novel. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Definitely recommended for anyone who likes a good love story and is looking for a fun feel-good diversion from their more heavy, serious reading.
Other Reviews: Braintasia Books, Confessions of a Book Addict, The Eager Readers, Good Books and Good Wine, Musings of a Penniless Writer, Novel Novice, Shelf Life, Wondrous Reads
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.
First Line: Here is everything I know about France: Madeline and Amelie and Moulin Rouge.
Vocab: (see the whole list)
- Location 759: “In the evening, Bridge emails me: Went with Matt and Cherrie M (for meretricious) to the movies last night.” – alluring by a show of flashy or vulgar attractions; tawdry.
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