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Stephanie Perkins – Anna and the French Kiss

March 28, 2011

41. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (2010)

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.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

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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14 Comments leave one →
  1. March 28, 2011 11:47 am

    Yes, yes rethink your reading habits because the world of Contemporary YA is excellent!

    I am so happy you enjoyed AatFK. Etienne is such a fabulous male lead and imperfect! I love that!

    Here’s a link to my review: http://www.goodbooksandgoodwine.com/2011/02/review-anna-and-the-french-kiss-by-stephanie-perkins.html

    • March 29, 2011 9:45 am

      April – Link added, thanks!

      Other than John Green, where would you suggest I go next for good contemporary YA?

  2. March 28, 2011 12:57 pm

    Not my normal kind of book, but I think I might read this for fun…

    • March 29, 2011 9:45 am

      Kailana – Everyone needs a little bit of brain candy now and again. :)

  3. March 28, 2011 2:11 pm

    I got this free for the Kindle too, so I’m glad to see it’s so good!!

    • March 29, 2011 9:46 am

      Kathy – It can be hard to sort through the freebies to find what’s worth reading, but it’s so great when one of them turns out to be so much fun!

  4. March 28, 2011 5:48 pm

    I also loved and reviewed this book, here: http://secretshelflife.blogspot.com/2011/01/anna-and-french-kiss.html

  5. Christine Fonseca permalink
    March 28, 2011 9:20 pm

    I just loved this book!!! And there are some amazing contemps being released right now.

    • March 29, 2011 9:49 am

      Christine – Any suggestions on what I should pick up next?

  6. March 28, 2011 10:19 pm

    Contemporary YA isn’t really my scene either, but I sometimes dip into soothing predictable books when I need a relaxing read (not implying that all contemporary YA is soothing and predictable for I know that it is not, I just mean this book and others of its ilk). Up with using “meretricious”, which I may or may not mix up with “mendacious”.

    • March 29, 2011 9:51 am

      Jenny – This is absolutely the kind of book I keep around to break me out of a reading funk, or to read when I’m in a bad mood – nothing too serious, just fun and light and with a happy ending.

      I’m okay with “mendacious”, but “meretricious” looks far too much like “meritorious” to me, considering that it means roughly the opposite.

  7. March 31, 2011 5:36 pm

    I’m waitingwaitingwaiting for this one to come in for me at the library. I don’t read much contemporary YA either, but I love Maureen Johnson and I’ve heard this one is decidedly Maureen Johnson-ish. It looks so cute, even with the predictablity factor!

    • April 1, 2011 9:42 am

      Memory – I’ve heard a lot about Maureen Johnson, and have one of her books on my shelf, but the only stuff of hers I’ve read so far are her contributions to Let it Snow and a few YA anthologies. But, I loved all of those, so I should really get off my butt and read some of her novels, eh?

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