Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
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 Etienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Etienne 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?
Here is ze scoop:
Anna is sent to a boarding school in Paris, which immediately made me think ZOMG I’m so jealous! French boys AND chocolate crepes every single day? Heaven! But Anna is upset because she’s leaving just as life is getting good. She’s finally a senior and this year should be the bomb, baby. But instead of spending it at home near her little brother, her best friend, and her big crush-that’s-about-to-be-something-more, she’s being shipped off to a foreign country by her pretentious Nicholas Sparks wannabe father (the fact that Stephanie Perkins pokes fun at the Sparkster is reason enough for me to want her as my new best friend).
Even in a glorious new city, Anna is pretty certain life will totally blow. She’s never been far from home, barely speaks the language and has no friends to call her own–that is, until her new dorm neighbor, Meredith, invites her over for some soothing hot chocolate (chocolate as a heal-all? Love her!) and introduces Anna to her close friends. Among these new acquaintances is the French/American/British (oh yes, accent alert) hottypants, Etienne St. Clair. St. Clair, as everyone calls him, is one of those funny, outgoing guys that pretty much every girl in a one mile radius has the hots for, and Anna isn’t immune to his charms. The problem? St. Clair has a serious girlfriend. Suckville!
Holy freaking crap you guys, talk about a book that actually lives up to every ounce of hype its gotten! Yowza! Anna and The French Kiss is every bit as sweet and magical as I’d heard it was. Anna is funny and likeable in her struggle to acclimate to her new surroundings. She does not suffer that fatal flaw of being perfect– in fact, she makes some stupid choices–but she is the kind of girl most of us would want to be friends with.
Anna and St. Clair have one of those relationships that seems so perfectly genuine. It brims with realism and uncertainty. Their connection is undeniable, though it is hindered both by St. Clair’s current dating situation and by the obvious crush that Meredith, Anna’s very first friend at school, has on St. Clair. And yet they both persist in pursuing a closer than close friendship that at times borders on something more. Much of the story is spent in a state of will they or won’t they; on the edge of that romantic moment that almost maybe kind of starts to happen. You think it’s coming—that confirmation you’ve been waiting for—and then someone says something stupid or backs down and the moment is lost. Perkins has written these instances so perfectly I felt transported back to high school (but in a good way and with less poofy hair).
The thing I absolutely loved–besides the fantastically cute and funny writing style of Stephanie Perkins, AND besides the adorable hotness of St. Clair, AND besides the sweet, awkward way in which Anna carries herself–is that this is truly a romance novel. It’s not some cheesy bodice ripper like the ones my grandmother used to read (and that I skimmed for all the dirty parts, which was like, most of the book). This book highlights the relationship between Anna and St.Clair, showing their journey from initial attraction, to all the simmering swoon that seems to have no place to go, to the final moments of clarity. The main part of the story is their relationship, as opposed to other novels where it’s a story about a girl who just has to a) overcome some obstacle b) learn a lesson c) kill a bunch of tributes/vampires/wolves all while having a side order of romance. Oh no, this is a story about a couple who may or may not be in love. Everything else is a sidenote. And the romance itself is so perfectly written in that funny, awkward, does he or doesn’t he? sort of way. I absolutely loved it.
Crush Intensity: 5/5 Stephanie Perkins, the only word I know in French is merci. So merci for writing this funny, sweet, swoony story that I will read again and again!