Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton Books (Penquin)
Length: 372 pages
Anna is shipped off to a Parisian boarding school for her senior year, far away from her hometown of Atlanta, where her crush who was just on the verge of becoming more still resides. Anna is not thrilled. She doesn’t even know French! But then she meets Etienne St. Clair: handsome, funny, and with a British accent, he’s hard to resist. Unfortunately, he’s already got a girlfriend. Misunderstandings occur, friendships are tested and many films in French theatres are viewed. Can Anna find love in a city known most for its romance?
This book started off like “eh” and ended like “WOAH.” The premise of Anna being shipped off seemed a little flimsy at first: her dad is an awful yet famous writer who wants to seem cultured, so he ships his eldest daughter to boarding school in France. Who does this?
But after this, I found myself really relating to Anna and her situation. Anyone who has experienced being on their own for the first time (whether it be college, studying abroad or hey, attending boarding school) can relate to Anna as she struggles to fit in with a new style of living and a new culture. Anyone who will eventually do these things can gain a lot of insight from how Anna deals with living away from home- Stephanie Perkins nails it perfectly. There’s the drama that comes from living with your friends, the anxiety of not knowing how to behave in another culture/new situation, and even the struggles of returning home a changed person for breaks.
Anna is a great strong, contemporary female lead who doesn’t just sit around waiting longingly for a boy she can’t have. She discovers her own agency, and uses it not to manipulate boys, but to explore Paris. While at first the novel seems just about the romance, there is some wonderful character growth, and who doesn’t like the scenery of Paris as a backdrop? I also appreciated that both Anna and Etienne are good-looking in unconventional ways. A tribute to Stephanie’s writing that I liked Etienne even though he was short (I once decided Daniel Radcliff and I couldn’t date because he is shorter than me).
If you want a contemporary romance that’s more than just fluff, Anna and the French Kiss is a great read. (Special thanks to my cousin for loaning me this book!)