Author: Stephanie Perkins
Published: Dutton, December 2010
Genre: Contemporary fiction/Romance
Cover score: B-
Overall Grade: A
Anna's life in Atlanta was perfect, until she was shipped off to American boarding school in Paris, France, with no French skills, no friends, and her swoon-worthy crush stuck back home. Adapting isn't easy, but soon enough, aspiring film critic Anna finds her place in the new city with a new group of friends and the discovery of French cinema. Things especially start to look up when Anna meets Etienne St. Clair, a gorgeous, charming guy--with a girlfriend. Anna's year in Paris is filled with romantic near-misses: but by the end of the year, will Anna get her French kiss? After all, Paris is the city of love...
My thoughts: To me, the star of this book was the cast of well-developed, likable, and realistic characters. I felt like I was involved in Anna's group of friends, and, being a high school student myself, I really appreciated how life-like they were, really acting like a group of teenagers. Although I often found Anna whiny, I grew to really like and understand her point of view, and, of course, St. Clair made a dreamy love interest. The thing I appreciated most was that St. Clair wasn't your obvious Mr. Perfect: he was quirky and witty and sarcastic, which made him all the more lovable.
Anna and the French Kiss didn't really have a structured plotline, but it was set up as more of a "year-in-the-life" story, which I found refreshing and easy-to-follow. The novel was set against a Parisian backdrop, and I loved all the quirky little details that Ms. Perkins included: the sights (Notre Dame! The french cemetary! The funky little Parisian cinemas!), the food (baguette! panini! hot chocolate!), and the people. It was a little like a vacation without going anywhere.
I only wish that there had been more culture and Paris in the novel than romance. After the first 300 pages or so, I was getting tired of and confused by all of Anna and St. Clair's back-and-forthing. There was one too many twists-and-turns, which weren't necessary, as the ending was quite predictable.
However, Anna and the French Kiss is a fun, absorbing, frothy, fresh, and down-to-earth romance with humor and a genuine, sincere heroine that readers will relate to. If this is a delicious French picnic, then bon appetite! This is one delicious read that you don't want to miss.
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