Perkins, Stephanie. Anna and the French Kiss. New York, NY: Dutton Books, 2010.
Anna was 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 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? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt.
After dystopias and vampires, I was ready for something far more realistic. I’ve been hearing good things about this book lately, so I decided to make it my next book. I started reading it February 10 and finished February 21, but that’s only because I was already reading Matched and wanted to finish that first. I actually read 75% of this in two days.
One of the biggest factors attracting me to this book is the fact that Anna spends a year going to school in Paris. I went for a couple days as part of a student tour of Europe when I was 13, and I want to go back someday. So reading about Anna and her friends brought back a lot of happy memories. The details are wonderful and help to set the scene, from the dorm rooms to the little cafes and sweet shops, to the great Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame Cathedral.
The story itself was definitely for a younger audience. Often YA books, as this is, are well-suited to adult readers. This was not the case here. I loved the setting, and the characters were all rounded out. What got to me was the way the characters made mountains out of mole hills, all the time. Everything was made out to be so much more than they were… but that’s why it’s so successful as a YA novel — teens live in a world of heightened reality, where everything really is dramatic. So while I no longer experience that world, I do remember how often I talked with my friends about how High School is like one four year long soap opera. (I did want to slap a couple of characters who were mean to Anna, so that fits the soap opera theme.) In that way, I expect Anna will be a hit with teens. I don’t think it will win a ton of awards, but it should make some reading lists.
Another thing to note? This was a NaNoWriMo novel, which is awesome because it gives me hope that my own NaNo novels might someday be polished enough to publish.
And I must point out that I wrote this in the waiting room of a doctor’s office in Poughkeepsie, NY and there were two men and a woman in the foyer speaking in French – how appropriate!