ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins [Review]
Anna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkin’s debut YA novel about a high school senior from Atlanta who’s shipped off to french boarding school and falls for the ever charming Etienne St.Clair, would make a great Sassy Gay Friend video. Through every wonderfully romantic page you want to shake Anna and ask her “What, what, what are you doing?”
Anna’s sent to finish her last year of high school in Paris by her father, who, after leaving her family has enjoyed a Nicholas Sparks-like writing career. She is, understandably not pleased with being the new kid in a country she knows little about, but she’s quickly adopted by a small group of friends, including, the charming, handsome, British Etienne St.Clair, who is unfortunately, taken. This small detail, along with a lingering crush from home, convinces her, for a time, that she’s not completely in love with him. But she is.
What makes this book great and different from a traditional teen boy meets girl story, is all the romance is tinged with tension. They might share a crepe in the city of love, but the spektor of his girlfriend hangs overhead. He might buy her a book of poetry, but when she checks her e-mail she’s still hoping for a note from her southern sweetie.
This is also a book about an American teen in Paris, and Perkins perfectly captures the feeling of wanting to fit in but not be a poser, to want to explore while longing for home, and the general embarrassment over being associated with the American tourist stereotype (a great moment is when St.Clair buys her a Canadian flag for her backpack so she’ll feel like she’s on the end of less Parisian scrutiny).
The descriptions of the Paris icons and museums are great, but the truly beautiful descriptions are of the French food, from the spotted, intensely sweet grapes to the multi-colored macaroons. Food is what cheers Anna and her friends and what brings them together during gatherings, and it’s also portrayed as a huge cultural passion, that there’s a way the French feel about food that Americans don’t.
Towards the end of the book the miscommunications seemed to pile up too quickly, too many opportunities to set everything straight narrowly missed, but that might be the hopeless romantic in me who just wanted them to go Facebook official already.
And for those who aren’t sold soley on the promise of well crafted teen love, Anna and the French Kiss also delves into parent-child dynamics, mean girls, film appreciation, Star Wars fandom and the grizzly death of Rasputin. So, something for everyone.
So revel in the will they won’t they romance of St.Clair and Anna within Anna and the French Kiss, and, if you’re so inclined, check out their continued story as secondary characters in Perkins Lola and the Boy Next Door. Between the two there are enough young love to keep you happily sighing for days.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars | Publisher: Penguin Group | Pages: 372 | Source: Barnes and Noble | Buy on Amazon