Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd on 2010-01-01
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Can Anna find love in the City of Light?
Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her coworker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection. So she's less than thrilled when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year. But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new people, including the handsome Étienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he's taken —and Anna might be, too. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she's waiting for?
So I just got around to reading this, after hearing so much buzz around the book because Stephanie Perkins’ Isla and the Happily Ever After comes out on the 14th of this month. Because I know that Anna and the French Kiss is already an established favorite around the blogosphere, I thought I’d switch things up a little and do a double review with my sister, Renee!
Renee is going off to college in SoCal with me this fall, and she’s been learning a little French this summer so that she won’t be too lost in French I! She’s also looking at being a potential European Studies major (so this book is perfect for her!). She really likes crêpes and wants to taste her first macaron in France. Renee actually read Anna and the French Kiss before I did and recommended it to me.
So here we go!
Each of us will be sharing our thoughts on a part of the book. Renee will be in purple, and I (Lina) will be in turquoise.
Lina: There were times when I was slightly frustrated with Anna — her lower self-esteem, her negative reaction to change, her troubles with understanding relationships — but she works through them. There was true character development here. And Anna’s not as completely quiet and passive as she first seems…she’s got some surprises up her sleeves. And did I mention she’s also a blogger? *cue happy dance*
Renee: I thought she was a little self-centered because she couldn’t see any of the good parts about being sent to Paris, only the bad parts. She could be a bit clueless at times because she couldn’t see that St. Clair obviously loved her (and how could she not know about Paris being the movie capital of the world? Her movie review blog was titled Femme Film Freak, for goodness sakes!). But I related to her because she had never been to a boarding school or away from home before, and how she reacted felt realistic and I can imagine going off to college will feel the same way. I liked how she grew as a person through the book and became more independent — it’s encouraging to see that.
Lina: Anna and Étienne make an amazing couple. Though I realize they stay ‘just friends’ for so long because of other circumstances, it’s great how much of their relationship is based in a strong friendship. They know each other so well, and their inside jokes and teasing, etc. never felt like it was forced or simply the next step in ‘getting the girl’ or anything. Maybe it’s Anna’s lack of close friends (I was never really feeling Bridget, Mer, or Rashmi), but her and Étienne are the BEST of friends. Confiding in each other, doing things for each other, being there…the whole nine yards. And at the same time, it was never awkward for such good friends to want to be together (Anna shared her secret desires well enough with the reader, haha). Well done, Stephanie Perkins!
Renee: Who wouldn’t want a British boy at a Paris boarding school falling in love with you? That’s my secret dream! I could read about that forever — but is it realistic? To me, Étienne seemed way to obvious with his feelings, and I don’t know how true to life that was. Buuut the awkward pauses and back-and-forth questioning of feeling seemed pretty real to me. He’s everything you’d want in a guy (except for the shortness…because who really wants a short guy?), even charismatic — it’s always so charming and nice to see when a guy can relate to others so well, and it’s pretty hot. Étienne was parfait (perfect).
(On the secondary characters)
Lina: I do feel like the secondary characters were often mentioned — as if the author made sure to not forget about them — but still not that well fleshed-out. I only got a rough feel for Anna’s friends and family. But hey, that’s what the companion novels are for, non? I’m personally SUPER excited to see Isla and Josh.
Renee: The book described them as the ‘artsy’ crowd, and I was worried that they’d be a very typical artsy clique, but each of them had their own little quirks and broke the mold. Mer was sporty and tall, Rashmi had a unique personality… it was fun to get to know Anna’s whole friend circle. It felt like the reader was a part of it, even with their ups and downs.
(On the setting)
Lina: Ah, Paris! It was perfectly presented to the reader. It was never overwhelming, but it was always there. The baguettes, the macarons, the famous cathedrals, the fetching young Parisians…Perkins really gave the sense of a foreign country that was maybe not so foreign. As Anna began exploring Paris, the reader too sees it as conquerable and exciting.
Renee: I have always dreamed of going to boarding school! Now that dream has passed me by, but at least I can read about it! The school seemed really realistic — while it had its beautiful lobbies and dining hall, it was still like a typical school with its not-so-enticing dorms and desks. But I wouldn’t really care what my dorm would look like, because it would still be in PARIS! It was nice that Stephanie Perkins included little details that really made the reader feel like they were in Paris with Anna — the opera singer across the street, the cinema owner and his little dog, Anna and her friends’ outings to pâtisseries and cafés, and even riding the métro. When Anna was home on break, she realized how much she missed Paris and how she felt Parisian. Why can’t that be me?
Lina: While there wasn’t any sort of weird pacing in this book to speak of (thank goodness!), I really feel that the later half made this book stand out to me. The first half or so felt very typical, very predictable, but it was the second (and more trouble-filled) part that really proved to me who Anna and Étienne were, stayed true to their characters, and deviated from the norm. I don’t feel that these two parts were unreconcilable; rather, they fit well together and there was a lot of character growth and maturing done. By the end of the book, I knew Anna and Étienne’s love story would be one I’d remember and cherish. <3
Renee: I thought it was really funny and well written because of the attention to detail and how well the reader felt they knew all the characters. Even minor characters like her allergenic brother and not-so-lucid grandma gave so much humor to the story. The plot is unbeatable — who wouldn’t want to read about a boy and girl falling in love in Paris? I’d recommend it to anyone, because there’s so many things to love about it!
Well, there you have it!
If you liked the images I included in this post, check out my Pinterest board for Anna and the French Kiss!
Have you read Anna and the French Kiss? What did you think of it? Burning thoughts on Étienne you need to share? Any questions or crêpes for Renee?