Friday, July 11, 2014

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (@naturallysteph)

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Publication Date: December 2, 2010
Published: Dutton (Penguin)

My Rating:
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 √Čtienne St. Clair. Smart, charming,beautiful, √Čtienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

I feel like I should start by saying that in the beginning I didn't think I would like Anna and the French Kiss, let alone love it. It wasn't that the writing was bad, if wasn't that it was a slow start, I just thought it was one of those books that I wouldn't be able to relate to at all. Stories chock-full of rich, white people problems are my least favorite type of stories. Here we first meet Anna when her parents transition her from Atlanta to Paris, to attend SOAP (School of America in Paris), and she's miserable. How dare her parents take her from the comfort of her home, away from her little brother, best friend, and bad boy boy-crush? She can't speak French, she'll inevitably be slapped with the "new girl" label, how will she survive?!


Then I remembered Anna is a teenager, and what it was like to be a teenager and understood, though, it wasn't until Anna started hanging out with her neighbor Meredith and her group of friends that I really began to allow myself to enjoy this story. It was like the more Anna started to enjoy Paris the more I started enjoying it, too.

Obviously, this story revolves around Anna and a boy. The boy being St. Clair, who she befriends by way of Meredith. Maybe befriend is too light a term, as Etienne St. Clair jumps head first into their solid friendship, while Anna dives into crush-dom. At first I didn't see the appeal. There seemed to be a lot of focus on his height, and something about the way it was articulated left a caricature imprint on my mind. It wasn't until I saw his humanness that I started to see Etienne as a real boy, and what a good friend he was to Anna. By the end I was in love with him, too! This English-French-American, who said pretty words, and offered unyielding support, who loved his mother relentlessly, and loathed his father with equal tenacity, who struggled between right and wrong; he was so unlike the love interests we so often see, and he was refreshing!

This story presented drama (loads of it), many forms of heartbreak, and love. It also posed timeless questions and sentiments that sound simple at a glance, but trigger contemplation. A few of my favorites:
"Is it possible for home to be a person and not a place?"
"The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you."
"Why is it that the right people never wind up together? Why are people so afraid to leave a relationship, even if they know it's a bad one?"
Anna and the French Kiss was sweetly written. It was an easy read, that left me with a swelling heart and a smile on my face.

4 solid stars.

Until Next Time!

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