Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Rating: Cuter than the cutest cute thing in a basket of cute. A funny, swooning, charming love story that will make you want to go to Paris immediately. But most important, there is Etienne St. Clair. ETIENNE. ST. CLAIR. Enough said.
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. Smart, charming,beautiful, Étienne 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?
The cover: I actually am not all that fond of the cover. First of all, there is no STRIPE in ANNA'S HAIR and this is an IMPORTANT THING. It's also intensely cheesy and looks photoshop-y and has a slight whiff of the self-published, which is not a bad thing, but when your cover has been professionally designed, it should look it. Also, I don't know whose wretched, cruel decision it was to deprive us of Etienne's face, but I want to have a few
The story: Anna and the French Kiss is a book I've been dying to read for ages. It's so up my alley, what with the hot boys, the funny, delightful narrator and, most of all, PARIS.
I was so glad that Anna didn't disappoint. This is the kind of book that makes you feel good about the world and yourself and strangers on the street. It wound itself so deeply inside me that I was happier for like three days for absolutely no reason other than the fact that part of my brain was still hanging out in Paris with Anna. I was downright giddy. Reading it is like curling up on a windowsill with a cup of chocolat chaud (and possibly a very, very attractive British boy with fantastic hair, if that is your thing, and it absolutely should be). Is it the textbook definition of First World, White Girl Problems? Most definitely. Is it oozing originality? Nope. Do I even care? NOT IN THE LEAST. Book, please let me french kiss you. You are my soul mate.
Anna: ANNA, I DON'T KNOW WHERE YOU'VE BEEN ALL MY LIFE, BUT I LOVE YOU. I adore this girl. She is upbeat,but not perky, eccentric, but not a manic pixie dream girl, funny, but not obnoxious, and most of all, she's genuine. She so easily could have been whiny and "Wahh, my parents are forcing me to move to Paris and leave all my friends behind, woe is meeeeee", but thankfully she realized pretty quickly how amazing and different her new life is in the School of America in Paris. She's a very knowledgable film buff with a bleached streak in her hair and the slightest touch of the OCD. She is such a fun narrator it's kind of ridiculous. She's so funny, but not in a gritty, sarcastic way. In a bubbly, best friend kind of way. I was so devastated when the book ended. I want to hang out with Anna more!
So Anna's dad, who is basically a fictional version of Nicholas Sparks, in that he writes soppy romance novels in which most of the characters get various forms of cancer and then die, sends her to school in Paris. Anna is your typical American teen. She doesn't know a word of French or a single thing about the French culture. It's the beginning of senior year, and she's starting over brand new. But Anna's resilient and adorable and quickly falls in with a great group of friends. And that, my dearest readers, is when we meet... Etienne.
Etienne St. Clair, the love of my life: He is French and American and British all at the same time. He has positively magic hair. He is a history nerd. He is, in a word, perfect.
|OHHHH. My loins just skipped a beat.|
Now, most of the time, perfect YA boyfriends can be perfectly boring. But St. Clair is possibly the best thing in the whole entire world. He's so attractive and charming and funny he just leaps right off the page. And yes, he screws up, A LOT. He's not actually perfect. But he's perfect for Anna, and oh, was he perfect for me. I did a lot of embarrassing squealing with reading this book. They're one of my favorite bookish relationships of all time. Best friends with something more but maybe not it's complicated who knows? So many misunderstandings, so much CHEMISTRY.
|Me, nearly every second of this book. But actually.|
The city of lights (and love, bien sur): Now that I have read this book, I will NEVER forgive my parents for not somehow finding a school like this and shipping me there immediately. Why is this book not my life. Why. Paris is described so wonderfully that you feel like you're walking around in it along with Anna. I took a million years of French in school, and I'm a history dork, so every time Anna did something culturally enriching (which was often, and which was so cool!), I just about died with happiness. At first I was afraid that Anna's total ignorance about all things Parisian would irritate me-- I mean, she was really ignorant, even about things which I thought were common knowledge-- but that aspect totally fit the story. You discovered Paris and the greater world along with her. Culture clash, those weird things that make a certain city and country what they are, the even weirder sensation of finding out you've moved on from your friends and family: all of these things are touched on in Anna.
The plot: The plot of this book basically boils down to romantical misunderstandings, which are, naturally, my favorite sort. Could the whole book have been solved by one, good, honest conversation somewhere around page 40? Yes. But these characters are human. That's why it takes every single character a whole damn novel to get their crap together. And it's so much damn fun. The dialogue is witty and charming, the characters are all intelligent in the way that real teenagers are. Part of why this book is so appealing is that it really does have a wish fulfillment element. There's enough conflict and character development and excellent writing to prevent it from being fan fiction, or something, but it's still the kind of book you want to live in. You want to be Anna so, so badly. Basically, I'm hoping one day I hit my head hard enough that I hallucinate living in this novel, because again: why is this not my life?