Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Posted August 6, 2014 in Book Review / 1 Comment

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Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie PerkinsAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #1
Also in this series: Lola and the Boy Next Door, Isla and the Happily Ever After
Published by Dutton Books on December 2nd 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 372
Format: Hardcover
Source: Amazon
Goodreads
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five-stars

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?

Main Points
Writing Style:
I liked it. The only complaint I have is that Anna does a lot of thinking, and often she says what she thinking. But I don’t like how often I see ‘I said as much’ or ‘and I say it.’ Things like that. Those things should have been in quotation marks or something. Or people should just be able to read her mind to save time.
Plot:
  I liked the imperfections of the main characters. Etienne had few imperfections, but they were emphasized enough to make him a believable character. The crooked bottom teeth, the resistance to change, the fear of heights. Anna herself had some. The gap in her front teeth, her chronic inability to speak French, etc….There are actually a lot of things that she does that I disagree with, or wouldn’t have done in her place. Like standing up for herself. She does this a little, but not nearly enough. She only really fought back once, and then wouldn’t defend herself to the principal to get less of a punishment. And she also got mad at the wrong people too often. Like her friends.
  But a lot of this book did hit home. I know the magic of travel. I know the magic of France. I know how it can bring out these sort of relationships- not just romance, but strong friendships. Attachments to people. Like when Anna and Etienne were just friends, and they took the plane back to the States together. I know how much better and more exciting it is to have someone to share the experience of travel with besides your family. Someone your own age, someone as inexperienced as you. There were a lot of things like that that Perkins got exactly right. For that reason alone I would treasure this book forever, not only because the connections I have with this book are so recent, but because I know they are always things that will be true. This book isn’t necessarily a love story but a story of relationships. And in a European setting, it just emphasizes them more.
  I managed to connect with a lot of her feelings. I just got back from Europe myself (a school trip) and I could understand her feelings perfectly. Like how she began feeling at home in France and going back was hard. The feeling is different if you’re just visiting a few days. The longer you’re there, the more you immerse yourself in the culture, the harder it is to pull yourself away from it. You become part of it in a relatively short amount of time (depending on how familiar you are with it in the first place). For instance since I’ve been studying France for years and I visited once before (before I started studying it), when I went a few weeks ago I felt like I fit right in. I was at home immediately. I wasn’t fluent, but I spoke enough to manage a living, I predict.
  I wasn’t entirely happy with the ending. It was a great one for Anna and a few other main characters. But a few of the antagonists didn’t quite get the punishment they deserved. And like I mentioned earlier, that has partly to do with the fact that Anna wasn’t the best at standing up for herself.
  I also loved meeting Isla in this book, who seems like she’ll be a fantastic protagonist in the third book. It’s clear how the books in this series will be connected. I liked her minor but actually important role in this book. She was a witness when Anna finally fought back and the only person who was nice to her for a while.
  I noticed that towards the second half of the book it started to feel like there was just too much drama going on. I mean sure it’s high school and drama is stereotypically a staple. But it almost got the point where I had to set the book down and continue another day. Almost. It wrapped itself up one way or another and I could continue.
  Anna’s relationship with her brother is something worth mentioning as well. While she was gone, her best friend Bridgette baby-sat for him. When she went back to see her family on holiday, he appeared to have become really attached to Bridgette, enough to obstruct his missing Anna. But the minute Anna and Bridgette started fighting, he was back on her side. That’s what true siblings do. I wouldn’t know personally, but all my friends have siblings this loyal. As much as they may fight, they are family. That’s an unbreakable bond.
  Wow, I haven’t mentioned Toph at all. He’s the guy Anna almost had a thing with before she left. I guess I just considered him a placeholder the entire time. He wasn’t really real. There was one short second where I thought, hm. Maybe it’s her destiny to realize that Etienne will never leave Ellie (his girlfriend) and she’ll realize her place is back at home with Toph. But that was quickly shattered. I won’t spoil.
Setting
First of all, I have been to France twice and taken 3 years of French. The description is accurate and most of the language is, but there were a few things different from what I learned. I don’t think I’m really in a position to say what’s right and what’s wrong, but it was a bit confusing trying to figure it out based on what knew. Aside from the language, the description of Paris was lovely. I’ve never been to Paris myself (I’m going once or twice next year though) so I can’t contrast it with my memory but from the other places I’ve seen in France (and Europe itself) it seems accurate and it manages to convey the sense of magic that you get when being in a different country.
…Interesting. I’ve noticed that the length of my reviews is pretty proportional to the length of the book.
Good vs. Bad
Good:
  • writing
  • plot
  • romance (very good)
  • setting (mostly)
  • characters
  • length
Less than perfect:
  • ending
  • some setting elements
Bottom Line
This book was beautiful. It conveyed very well the feelings and situations that come from visiting other countries (especially in Europe) for extended periods of time. The romance was slow and beautifully awkward at times but every moment was perfect and necessary. The setting was well described but I have some doubts as to the accuracy of the language. The ending was mostly satisfying, but there could have been more. The characters were believably imperfect. Would I read more by this author? Yes, and I plan to very soon. Would I recommend this to others? For SURE. Read it now.

About Stephanie Perkins

Hi, there! I’m Steph, and I wrote ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS and LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR. They have funny bits and kissing, so you should totally read them. If you’re into that sort of thing. The final companion is called ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER, and it will be released in August 2014. I also edited (and contributed a short story to) a romantic holiday anthology called MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME (October 2014). My next novel will be horror—a teen slasher published by Dutton.

Rating
Plot
four-stars
Characters
three-half-stars
Writing
four-half-stars
Setting
two-half-stars
Romance
five-stars
Cover
four-half-stars
Ending
five-stars
Overall: five-stars
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