I moved twice when I was in high school, once before my freshman year and once before my junior year. I was perfectly happy about the first move and totally not about the second. So, I know what it is like to be the new girl, in a place completely different, with no friends and to have super rage over it as only a teenager can have. I have to say Stephanie Perkins did a very fine job of conveying, through Anna's character, the emotions involved in such a move. Reading the beginning of this book made me have flashbacks. On the flip side I really wanted to yell at Anna, "Girl, you are in PARIS. Me? I was moved to Fayetteville, NC (a place not so fondly referred to by its current and former residents as "Fayetnam").
Can I just say? The lack of symmetry on this cover really annoys me.
Anna and the French Kiss has been showered with all kinds of love all over the Internet so I was very interested in reading it. This review by Allison over at The Allure of Books is what made me really want to read it. I became unwilling to wait for my library to get around to purchasing a copy and bought my own.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home. As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?
I very much enjoyed the few hours it took me to read this book cover to cover. Anna's voice drew me into the story right away and it was very easy for me to relate to her. I felt like Anna's experiences being in a foreign country were just as realistically portrayed as her new girl experiences (I too have been paralyzed by terror in Paris, France at the thought of ordering off a menu). Etienne St. Claire is a great hero. He's your classic romantic nice guy but his character has a depth to it you don't often find in romantic chick lit novels. I think what I liked best about the book is how Anna and Etienne are friends. Friends who happened to be very attracted to each other, but their friendship is still very real. I loved how, through the character of Anna's father, Stephanie Perkins makes fun of Nicholas Sparks. And I'm all for anything that makes fun of Nicholas Sparks.
There were a couple of things that detracted from my absolutely loving the book unequivocally. For the first two thirds of the book I was really engaged and felt the communication between all of the characters was portrayed realistically. But then all the misunderstandings started to get to be a bit much. It was almost as if the author decided she couldn't resolve the situation until a certain time of the year had come or page number had been reached. The teenage drama and miscommunication in the last third of the novel became tedious to read because I felt like it was being forced. It just didn't flow as naturally as the rest of the book did. My other quibble is a minor one, but it tripped me up every time it happened. Eteinne, who has an English accent because he grew up in England, says "me mum" a lot. Each time I felt his character had been possessed by the Lucky Charms leprechaun. I lived in England for four years, granted it was a long time ago, but I don't remember people there switching out their my's for me's.
I definitely enjoyed my experience in Paris with Anna and Ettiene and am looking forward to reading the companion novel Lola and the Boy Next Door when it comes out in the fall of this year.
Note on Content: This is a book for teens. There is a scene on Anna's birthday that involves drinking. There are some allusions to sex but as Anna is the narrator and she's not sexually active, nothing is described.