Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Published by Speak on December 2nd, 2010
Shelve It: Goodreads
Anna can’t wait for her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a good job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more.
So she’s not too thrilled when her father unexpectedly ships her off to boarding school in Paris – until she meets Etienne St. Clair, the perfect boy. The only problem? He’s taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her crush back home.
Will a year of romantic near-misses end in the French kiss Anna awaits?
Absolutely adorable, Anna and the French Kiss was a grin-inducing, feel-good romance that managed to capture my heart with its authentic characters and its vibrant Parisian setting.
I fully believe that whether or not you will enjoy Anna and the French Kiss is completely dependent on how well you connect with Anna. Fortunately, I absolutely loved Anna’s sense of humour and her internal commentary to herself:
“You’ll be reading the breakfast menu without me before you know it.”
Hmm, maybe I don’t want to learn French.
Argh! Boys turn girls into such idiots.
She was constantly thinking the things I would normally think to myself, as I rolled my eyes over a character’s stereotypical speechlessness when presented with a handsome male specimen. Because Perkins chose to have Anna acknowledge how ridiculous she reacted to that kind of attention, I couldn’t help but fall in love with Anna and wish that she and I were best friends.
“And Anna, I’ve never met your father, but I guarantee you that you’re nothing like him.”
“How would you know?”
“Well, for one thing, he looks like a Ken doll. And you’re beautiful.”
I trip and fall down on the sidewalk.
Her self-awareness also made things like her clumsiness adorable, because it felt like it was coming from a genuine place, rather than like Perkins was trying to capitalize on a trend. I loved that Anna never forgot about her best friend at home, and that she missed her mom and her younger brother with ferociousness, despite finding new friends and transitioning relatively seamlessly into her new life. Her pangs of homesickness reminded me of my first year away from home while I attended University, where despite having the time of my life, I would sometimes be struck by the absence of everyone and everything I had ever known and loved. It allowed me to relate to Anna on a personal level, which I really appreciated.
And then there was Anna’s relationship with Etienne.
This time his grin is full and dazzling, and it catches me off guard. My heart stops.
I stare until his smile drops, and he looks at me questioningly.
This time, it’s my voice that’s grown quiet.
Could they have had any more sexual tension? I was dying by the end of Anna and the French Kiss, unable to withstand the agony and anticipation of them just kissing already! While I wouldn’t have minded a few more steamy scenes between the two of them, keeping them apart for as long as Perkins did was absolute genius. It let me grow to love both of them on their own, which in turn, made me want them to realize how silly they were both being by skittering around the truth about their feelings for one another. It also meant that, for once, I wasn’t bothered by a lack of communication being used to drive the plot forward. Anna and Etienne each had valid reasons for denying themselves what they really wanted, and that meant not burdening the other with their true feelings. It definitely didn’t stop me from appreciating every glance that lasted too long, or every touch that lingered, though!
While I found certain twists slightly predictable, like the one with Toph, I didn’t mind because Anna didn’t see the twists coming, and her reactions were absolute perfection. She was passionate and loyal, but also hypocritical and naive. I loved watching her realize that her own flaws were the same flaws she faulted her friends for having, and that she acknowledged her hypocrisy and then worked to make amends by admitting her foolishness. She managed to both hide her emotions, and wear them on her sleeve at the same time, and I loved how often those two traits conflicted with each other.
With such a heartwearming story, Anna and the French Kiss was made even more romantic by being set in Paris. I loved being taken on tours by Etienne, being exposed to French cuisine and culture, and watching Anna grow into an independent young woman as she learned how to appreciate being self-sufficient in a foreign place.
I loved Anna and the French Kiss, and I read the entire thing with a big goofy grin on my face. Even though it was predictable in some places, I was so caught up in Anna and Etienne’s sexual tension that I barely noticed. Now I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Lola and the Boy Next Door!