I’m a few years late, but, better late than never, right? Anna and the French Kiss is one of those books I’ve always heard so much about, and wondered what all the fuss was about. Reading this synopsis, at first, I thought it was pretty ordinary, and I had a hard time thinking about what was making is so famous and loved by everyone. Well, after reading it, I can say, I understand. And I’m not saying this to fit in, I’m saying it because I think it : I. Absolutely. Loved. It.
“I mean, really. Who sends their kid to boarding school? It’s so Hogwarts. Only mine doesn’t have cute boy wizards or magic candy or flying lessons.”
When her father decides to send her off to boarding school in Paris, Anna is far from being happy. Leaving her best friend, and her crush behind to get into an American boarding school in the City of Lights wasn’t exactly on her wishlist. However, she quickly makes new friends, and even finds herself slowly falling for the handsome, English-accented Etienne St Clair. The problem? He already has a girlfriend. From this short synopsis, you can say already that this is not a story made for suspense fans: everything is kind of predictable. But that didn’t make me enjoy it less. First of all, I really need to talk about the scenery. It was fantastic. I can say with luck that I’ve been to Paris a few times now, living in France (and no, I don’t live in Paris, at all). I’ve been to Notre Dame a few times, and to Shakespeare & Co, the famous bookshop. I’ve wandered through the streets of Paris. What an amazing thing to read a story with such intricate details about Paris’ life, its street and street vendors, the monuments. The descriptions were accurate, and it made the whole story very realistic. What I enjoyed the most, is that it’s not perfect. The city isn’t perfect, it isn’t quite home to Anna. The relationships between the characters, isn’t perfect either. That’s one of the things I enjoyed the most. Anna and The French Kiss isn’t a work of perfection. It’s a love story, a contemporary novel about life changing, finding love, new friendships, getting accustomed to a new place, a whole new life. That’s why it works so well for me. It’s far from perfect, but it’s real.
In this story, we discover a bunch of interesting characters with their own personnality and their own stories. Let’s talk about Anna : I loved her voice in the story. She’s strong, she stands up for what she loves and knows what she wants. After the first few days of being shy, she explores the city by herself. She grows thorough the whole story. Anna doesn’t lose herself in love, either. She knows what she wants, and she won’t get down to get it. Most of all, Anna is flawed. She has a gap between her front teeth, she says the wrong thing at the wrong time, dances like a stupid when she’s drunk. She’s human. On the other side of the love story, there’s Etienne. This guy with a mixed nationality (English, French and American) is really interesting, and his English accent… well, I’m a sucker for English accents, don’t blame me. He’s handsome, perfect, in appearance…and he’s short. He makes mistakes, (lots of them!). I loved that we’re far from the perfect golden boy image, there. And the secondary characters. I found that they all brought something to the story, they didn’t seem too static, while waiting for the main love story to unfold in front of their eyes. Each and everyone of them had an interesting personnality, and they were part of the love story.
“Is it possible for home to be a person and not a place?”
About this love story. I found it very realistic. There were ups, downs, and lots of downs. I enjoyed the fact that Anna and Etienne got to know each other. At first, I thought it was going to be an insta-love sort of thing. Anna encounters Etienne in the hallway, and she’s frozen. I’ll admit it, I wanted to say out loud, please, don’t. I was happy it didn’t happen this way. This love story seemed true, in the way that it unfolded exactly how a teenage crush develops. It’s awkward, filled with fights, friendship, mixed up with weird feelings, moments of closeness that disappears a second later. As I read, I started to feel for the characters, for their relationship. I said this already, but Anna and The French Kiss has to earn extra points. As cliché as this story might seem, it’s filled with mistakes, and lots of them. Ups and downs and a realistic take on teenage relationships and love. I absolutely loved the little details about their physical appearance that made them, different. That made them, just, them. Etienne is short, and, while we always, in stories, get this image of a tall, handsome guy, he’s still as perfect as he can be. With the little gap between her teeth, Anna is nothing far from not being perfect. They accepted and loved each other with their flaws, that was really enjoyable to read.
Anna and the French Kiss is my first Stephanie Perkins book, and I was pleasantly surprised. The writing was clear, fast-paced, it kept me entertained during my whole read, and there are really funny moments. Details about the characters made me feel for them. I loved the timing between all of the events, the ups and downs of the relationship. It wasn’t great for the main characters, sure, but it managed to keep me entertained at all times. I can’t say this book isn’t predictable: you know how this is all going to end. But that didn’t prevent me, at all, from enjoying every part of it.
If you’re into contemporary romance, then this is the book for you. Anna and the French Kiss will make you smile, and care for unperfect characters with even more flawed relationships. If you think it’s cliché, don’t let yourself be fooled. And just read it.
Did you read Anna and The French Kiss? What did you think about it? Did you read any of her other books, and do you have recommendations for me? Let me know in comments!
Stephanie Perkins, Anna and the French Kiss, Published by Speak, July 16th 2013 (First published January 1st 2010).
Can Anna find love in the City of Light?
Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her coworker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection. So she’s less than thrilled when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year.
But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new people, including the handsome Étienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he’s taken —and Anna might be, too. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she’s waiting for?