Friday, June 9, 2017

REVIEW | Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Publication Year: 2010
Genre: YA, Contemporary Romance
Series: NA
Awards: A Bunch of Local YA awards
Format: Audio (from Library)
Narrator: Kim Mai Guest

WHY?:  I'm not entirely sure?  I usually don't like contemporary romance or contemporary YA and this is all of those things.  I think I was in the mood for something light and charming and stumbled upon it while lost (skulking) in the YA audiobook aisle at the library. Bingo!

SYNOPSIS:  Anna Oliphant lives with her recently divorced mother in Georgia until her father decides to give her an experience and enrolls her in a fancy private school for rich Americans (mostly) in Paris for her senior year of high school.  She's pretty bummed about it but her homesickness is lessened a little when she pretty quickly gets sucked into a circle of friends that includes the dreamy Etienne St. Clair.  


As I mentioned above, I am not usually a fan of this type of book.  My YA reading is almost exclusively SFF and my romance reading is always historical.  So Anna and the French Kiss was a departure but so many people had raved about what a charming book it was and I thought I'd at least give it a try.  I don't have a ton to say about it but I did actually really enjoy it and would recommend it to any one looking for a light romance.

If I've learned anything from romance novels it is that clear and open communication is an absolute must.  Why is it so hard?  Well it makes one vulnerable  - for example if one said "I like you and would like to date you and I think maybe you like me, but you've mentioned this guy back home and I'm not sure how you feel about him and I'm also totally confused about where this puts me with my own girlfriend.  She's important to me, and I'm afraid of being alone but things aren't great with her and if they were I wouldn't like you, right?  What are your thoughts on the matter?"  and the other person ran screaming or reacted with disgust that would be incredibly humiliating.  Not to mention that the above monologue reveals, perhaps, some not so pretty things about ourselves.  So it is no surprise that we in the real world, as well as those in romance novels continue to keep our traps shut and therefore create SO MUCH DRAMA.  This is essentially Anna and the French Kiss.  An ode to our fragile egos and inability to make words about feelings.

Besides illustrating the universal truth of De-doo-doo-doo, De-Da-Da-Da by The Police, the main thing the book had going for it was that it felt very authentic and genuine  - Perkins nails the emotional roller coaster of being a teenager in crush mode.  For the most part I totally felt kinship with Anna....well except for the part where the most popular, cutest boy in the school returns her crush.  I've sadly never had that particular experience, lol.  In some ways I did feel more sympathy with the compassionate, stalwart, nurturing, ever suffering Meredith, even though we don't really get to know her but Anna is definitely likable while still flawed enough not to be annoying.  St. Clair as well.  Perkins does a great job creating a boy who is in fact most girls dream guy (British, great sense of humor, kind, easy to talk to, confident without being cocky and handsome) while making sure he had some flaws that helped make him feel real.  Dreamy but real.  

It's also very funny which is what really made this book work for me.  If it had been too earnest...  Thankfully, I laughed out loud often.  In short, it was charming and delightful and only gets a tad too angsty during the denouement. It has SUCH a smoochy, sentimental ending, as all good romances should of course, but I think part of my problem with contemporaries is that I have a harder time buying these perfect endings.

FINAL VERDICT:  If you are looking for a light romantic book that will make you laugh and is (mostly) not annoying, Anna and the French Kiss is for you! 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Other Opinions are Available: Dear Author | Nose Graze

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