Systematic Student + [YA]

Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is a fun contemporary romantic YA. I don't read a lot of fiction where the primary plot line revolves around romance, but like watching a chick flick, every once in a while it just hits the spot. And this book is like that.

I felt really bad for Anna when the book first started. Her dad is a best selling author who has decided that to impress his buddies he needs a bigger profile, and more pretentious things to talk about. So, he decides he is going to send Anna to an American boarding school in Paris, France. Without asking her how she feels about it. For her senior year. Anna already has problems with her dad, considering he walked out on them when her brother was a baby and now sends money and not much else and this definitely makes things worse. Her mom can't help her and Anna is bitter, scared and lonely when she first gets to Paris. Her meeting with next door neighbor helps bring her into a new circle of friends, and give her some bearings and this is where her story starts.

The characters are very well written, with multi-faceted personalities, flaws, shortcomings, and positive traits in a believable combination. None of these characters are perfect, all of them make stupid mistakes and bad choices, but they all also have many redeeming qualities too. They not only have personality traits, they also have hobbies, preferences and quirks. Like Anna who is almost obsessively neat and absolutely adores movies, especially the classics. These characters were written as if they were real people. Because the characters were real, the relationships between the characters also felt very real. I hate reading books where the romantic connection consists of a glance across a room, instant hormonal craze, one conversation and BAM! I'm head over heals in love. Things like that don't actually happen. You can't be in love with someone that fast. What you can be however, is in lust. Which is what Anna is when she first meets beautiful boy Etienne St. Clair.

But, St. Clair has a long term girl friend, is being crushed on by a mutual friend and is therefore totally off limits. So, she thinks he's totally hott, but doesn't try to make anything happen. They become friends and over time she realizes that Etienne is her closest friend. It get complicated when emotional attachments start to muddy the waters, but Anna is trying really hard to keep her head up, and not cross that boundary line. They toe the line, they nudge it, but they never cross it. Until they do...

Although mostly lighthearted in tone and topic, there are serious elements to the story as well. Both Anna and Etienne have problems with their fathers that need resolution, and the book brings up the topics of pain, death, loss and betrayal. It's a credit to the author that each of these topics was handled in a realistic way that enhanced rather than detracted from the story line, and didn't bog the story down. I've read too many books that are supposed to be about one thing and end up getting caught in the black abyss that is the sub plots.

I loved this book. I thought it was scads of fun to read, and I'm beyond desperate to visit Paris now. It's always been high up in my top 5 places to visit list, but after reading this book I feel like I needed to be there yesterday. I loved that the author included a lot of touristy sites, as well as places a little more off the beaten path. It made me feel like I could really be there. And man, do I want to go hard core!

Although not my usual fare, this is definitely a book I'm glad I read, and one that I wouldn't mind reading again. I was very excited to hear that Perkins has two companion novels in the works. I'm glad that we aren't getting a continuation of Anna's story, because it is over, but that there will be more coming soon from Ms. Perkins. Yay for Anna!:)

*Disclaimer: I received this book through Around the World Tours.