October 18, 2013

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

          I wish my parents had offered me the choice: 'Would you like to spend your senior year in Atlanta or Paris?'
          Who knows? Maybe I would have picked Paris. 
          What my parents never considered is that I just wanted a choice.
-from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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After reading so much hype over Anna and the French Kiss on every other book blog, I decided to give Stephanie Perkins' debut novel a read. I admit that all of the love for this novel made me somewhat resistant; I don't know where that attitude comes from, but I seem to think I'm just not going to get what all the hype is about. I'm pleased to report that I was wrong and Anna and the French Kiss was everything others raved about and then some.

In this brightly narrated novel, Anna Oliphant is shipped off to boarding school in Paris at the command of her well-to-do famous novelist father. While she is resistant to being uprooted and sent to another country alone, Anna also seems to be pretty open-minded and is fortunate to make new friends immediately. One new friend, Etienne St. Clair, is a gorgeous guy who seems particularly (and platonically) interested in befriending Anna; the only thing wrong with Anna's new crush- he has a girlfriend. This novel follows Anna through her senior year at the School of America in Paris, chronicling her crush on St. Clair and lessons learned about friendship, love and stepping outside of her comfort zone.

There are dozens of great things about this novel, but they wouldn't mean anything without the characters that Perkins has crafted. From Anna to St. Clair and everyone in between, each character is flawed but likable with their own personal baggage and personality. I especially loved the angsty Rashmi and how likable she was underneath her abrasive exterior. Because the characters are flawed the reader is better able to relate to them and feel what they are going through, namely Anna. Throughout the book Anna goes through a range of emotions and I felt everything she was feeling (even when I saw something coming) because of how realistic she is written. I really cared for Anna as a character (and missed her when I finished reading).

I'm always happy to read a novel that is appropriate for younger readers because I get to imagine how I would have felt reading it at a younger age and it helps me recommend books to age groups that might not be eager readers. For Anna and the French Kiss I wish I would have had this to read early in high school. While at times I was worried the content might get more adult than I feel is appropriate for grades 9-10, it never made the leap and that made me trust Stephanie Perkins as an author so much. The reason I back this book as a great read for early high school is because of the lessons Anna learns throughout; lessons about crushes and love, friendship and trust, but most importantly stepping outside of your comfort zone; a lesson I could have used when I was in high school! Furthermore, instead of being an unrealistic love-at-first-sight story, Anna learns about and befriends St. Clair in a more organic way that should be a lesson to all emotionally-charged teen girls. Because Anna is capable of making smart choices despite being emotionally vulnerable she makes for a positive role model and reinforces the idea that teens are good and smart, despite what society implies.

I know I can get on my moral soapbox more often than not when it comes to adolescent and teen content, but that's why I loved this book so much. It was wholesome without beating the reader over the head with preconceived notions of how teen crushes and/or love is supposed to be handled. While being an easy, accessible and enjoyable book to read, Anna and the French Kiss is surprisingly in depth emotionally. I can't wait to read the companion novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door. If it's half as enjoyable as Anna, I will be satisfied!

Bottom Line: If you're a girl who has ever had a crush on a boy, I highly recommend you read this now! 5/5 stars


  1. This is one of my FAVORITE books ever. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Wasn't the setting of Paris awesome? I loved the character of Anna and missed her when the story was over too. I hope you get your hands on a copy of Lola. I enjoyed Lola, but not as much as Anna.

  2. i never heard of it before but it sounds interesting. i need a break from the 'heavy' stuff and all those crime fiction books i read all this year. i need to balance my hormone.

  3. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one! I read it a month after it came out and it was because I saw one person's review, but I can definitely understand the hype problem. I'm glad it overcame the hype! I loved Rashmi, too! I liked Lola a lot, I hope you enjoy it, too!


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