Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Release Date: December 2, 2010
Pages: 372 (Hardcover)
Another contemporary YA book of Fall/Winter 2010/11. It's very interesting, how reading tastes change over time. In high school, I read a lot of romance novels (some paranormal, some contemporary, some trashy, some Harlequin). In the past 2 years, I've slowly moved into reading more YA. I still read paranormal YA, I re-read Hush, Hush last night, but the contemporary books are slowly creeping their way into my book pile.
Mostly because of how awesome the story is. :)
Anna is no different. Anna Oliphant is shipped off by her divorced parents to spend her senior year in Paris, away from her family, friends, and potential crush in Atlanta. She doesn't want to go to Paris, mostly because her father's a jerk and she doesn't speak a word of French. Well, maybe she knows oui and merci, but that's pretty much it. But, and there is a but, what (or who) changes her mind about the City of Lights: a breathtakingly handsome French (with a British accent & born in America) classmate, Étienne St. Clair, who comes complete with a girlfriend who goes to a different school.
Okay, so, you might think it sounds cheesy and predictable, but the book is full of first times (for Anna learning all about how Paris doesn't suck and is actually a blast), of almost and near-misses, of laughter and new friends, and of course, romance and kissing. Who doesn't like kissing, especially when the guy has a British accent?? *swoon* ;)
I really liked Anna. She was emotional but not overwhelming. She was funny and smart, she enjoyed films and reviewed them instead of just watching them like lots of teens (and she liked older films, too). She made it her job to be friends with St. Clair and to focus on a possible crush back home, which is very mature of her. Sure, she could've spent the year drooling all over him like every other girl in the school, but that's not Anna.
Until she realized she was in love with him. Crap. And so she had to figure out what to do next, and determine if he was still with his girlfriend, considering how much time St. Clair spent with her (and sometimes their friends).
This book is like a rollercoaster, it goes up and down, loops around, dips and confuses you, and ends with a bang. A nice bang, mind you. The characters were funny and smart, Paris comes off as a glorious adventure full of architecture and history and magic, and the romance was sweet without being obvious or overwhelming. Sure, it's a YA book that's obviously got a bunch of romance in it, but Anna and St. Clair only account for about two-thirds of it. The rest is all Paris. *sigh* I'd love to go to Paris one day.
In short, even if you don't like contemporary chick lit YA romance, at least give it a try. It was a wonderful and fun debut by Stephanie Perkins. I'm not sure if I can stand to wait for her next books Lola and the Boy Next Door (Sept. 29, 2011) and Isla and the Happily Ever After (Fall 2012), companion books to Anna.
And I think Stephanie Perkins has great hair. Blue streaks on red? Great choice. ;)