Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Published: 2010 by Penguin Group
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. So she’s less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Etienne 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?
First Sentence:”Here is everything I know about France: Madeline and Amelie and Moulin Rouge.”
So I’m feeling torn about this book. While it pleasantly surprised me, there were some aspects I disliked.
Anna is very unhappy about going to France for senior year (which I get, but at the same time. . . IT’S FRANCE). Her dad is trying to exercise his wealth, and this includes using it to send her to a fancy boarding school. When she arrives she’s completely lost. However, she does establish friendships with four of the kids there. One of those four is Etienne, or St. Clair as everyone calls him. He’s completely cute and funny and amazing. BUT. He’s got a girlfriend. So as Anna tries to navigate France, a new school, her new friendships, and her own feelings, she learns a lot about herself.
This may sound like just another YA realistic fiction teen cutesy book. It’s not. I’ll give it that. This book is very “serious”, bringing in emotionally abusive parents, cancer, divorce, drinking and much more. This is a very emotional story. Anna goes through a lot in France, and even more at home.
Our protagonist Anna is a bit of a worrier. She gets nervous about everything. She over-analyzes things and doesn’t like trying new things. She’s very content with where things are in Atlanta. But when she comes back for Christmas vacation, she realizes that not only has she changed, but not everything was the same as when she left. Over all I liked her as the main character. She stood out from all the other boring similar first-person narrators in YA fiction.
Anna and Etienne have a very tight friendship (although she likes him the whole time) and they talk all the time about everything. Christmas holiday causes them to talk constantly for support during their various messed-up vacations. Ms. Perkins gives us this idea of “home” being a person, not a house/place. Anna only really feels home when she’s with Etienne. I think that should be true for friends/married or engaged couples/boyfriends and girlfriends. Home isn’t necessarily just a building you live in. It’s the people there (or not there).
All the “tourist-y” moments out and about in Paris were lovely. It made me desperately want to travel there (not that I didn’t before).
I can’t really explain why I didn’t “love” this book. It just wasn’t my cup of tea, I guess.
Content Warnings: Kissing, “awkward” moments, and LOTS of language.