Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Release Date: December 2nd 2010
Genre(s): Young Adult, Romance
Purchase: The Book Depository | Amazon
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. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne 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?
Pretty much everyone and their neighbor has read Anna and the French Kiss and are ecstatic about it. I’m incredibly late to the party, but I can safely say that the hype that surrounds this book is completely justified. It’s adorable and contains everything you could possibly desire from a romance/chick-lit book. Bonus points: the writing is considerably better than in the average chick-lit!
I loved the author’s choice of setting: Paris. I’ve been to Paris a few times and I fell in love with the city the first time I set foot in it. It breathes character and chicness with its patisseries, monumental buildings, old fashioned pavements and beautiful language. The author made a point of making Paris a big part of the plot and I love her for it. It was lovely to read about all the familiar things Paris is famous for, and even better to find out about places I had not heard of before. She doesn’t just mention touristic highlights though, but describes all of Paris in a way that makes you really experience the Parisian atmosphere. Its portrayal of the city is simply perfect and it was perhaps my favorite aspect of Anna and the French Kiss!
In addition, I really appreciated the way the romance progressed. Anna and St. Clair started out as just friends which slowly progressed into something more. Though I wanted them to get together, I liked to read about their little ventures in Paris because their friendship made for a very solid base for a relationship, something which you do not often find in young adult or chick-lit books. Furthermore, it took them almost a year to finally admit their feelings for each other, which also seemed quite realistic.
Though this is very clearly a romance novel, it does not make the individual characters any less important. In my opinion Perkins created a set of realistic characters with hopes and dreams, who also experience major disappointments. Both Anna and St. Clair were very developed characters because they were the focus on the story, but other characters like Rashmi, Meredith and Josh, though lacking in appearance, captured my interest too. I’d actually like to know more about them!
The one major disappointment of this book is the cheating scenario (sorry readers I can’t phrase it without giving away a spoiler). It made me hate St. Clair and Anna just a little bit, but more so I hated how the author chose to deal with it. It happened, then it got brushed off and barely mentioned again. It was as if the author felt that the cheating was justified, it was after all so that the boy could end up with the main character. I disliked this attitude towards cheating and quite frankly I could not understand why St. Clair did not just end his relationship sooner, it made for an unnecessary and dragged out problem in the plot.
Apart from this one issue, I think Anna and the French Kiss is a brilliant debut novel. It’s nicely written and cute beyond words. If you’re interested in stories about romance, or if you’re into chick-lit and young adult, this book is it for you!