Name of Book: Anna and the French Kiss
By: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton Books (a member of Penguin group)
Copyright Date: 2010
Number of Pages: 372
Format: YA fiction
Reason for Reading: The rave reviews I’ve seen everywhere had me picking this up at the library
Anna Oliphant’s dad has decided to send her away to boarding school in Paris for her senior year of high school. Anna is upset about leaving her best friend behind in Atlanta and a potential boyfriend. However, things look up for Anna soon upon arriving at SOAP (School of America in Paris) and she quickly discovers the delights of living in the City of Lights.
One big upsides is meeting the extremely attractive, funny, and charming Etienne St. Clair, whom she immediately falls for. The downside? It just so happens that he has a girlfriend.
I read this book while sick and it was the perfect antidote to feeling yucky and rundown. This book made me so happy and giddy I couldn’t put it down. I literally read it one night, staying up late to finish. Anna and St Clair are such likeable characters. They are flawed and human and palpably real. It is a story of miscommunications, missed connections, and about growing up.
There were so many things that I loved about this book. I love how Anna finds a greater sense of her strength and independence. She becomes much more self-aware by the end. She can see her mistakes and attempts to correct them. I love the way the friendship between Anna and St Clair unfolds so naturally and beautifully. I love the email exchanges during Christmas break. And I love the way Paris plays a subtle character in it all. I am a sucker for foreign settings, especially France.
And the writing. The writing is quick and clever and very funny. Perkins has a strong, unique voice and I like it. She gets teenager speak dead on. There were a few moments in the book where I cringed at teenager speak; however, the humor quickly reeled me in. I am almost certain it was this next line on page sixteen that hooked me. (It happens right after meeting Etienne.)
” ‘I live here.’ I point dumbly at my room while my mind whirs: French name, English accent, American school. Anna confused.”
I also really enjoyed this story because I am a lifelong francophile. Anna’s experience reminded me of my own adventures living abroad being immersed in French culture, learning the language, and the foreign quality that normal daily activities take on outside of the comfort zone. I was rooting for Anna to discover her worth, be brave and independent, and to stick up for herself and also, to see her own errors.
A minor quibble: As fleshed out as Anna and St. Clair are some of the other characters were less so. But the vividness of Anna and St. Clair absolutely makes up for it.
I hear there is a companion book-not a sequel, mind you-coming out soon. Lola and the Boy. I will definitely be on the lookout for it.