Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Anna And The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna And The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Dutton, 2010


Summary

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets √Čtienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited? (courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

Anna And The French Kiss is one of those rare books that has the entire package. Everything you want in a book. Great romance. Great sub-plots. Likeable male and female protagonists. Even more important, realistic male and female protagonists. Dysfunctional family. Fabulous setting. Likeable secondary characters who fit well into the plot. Even a boarding school.

Those are all the formulaic reasons that Anna and the French Kiss is wonderful, but there's something more. Something intangible. There's just something about this book that makes you want to keep reading, then to groan, then to squeal, then to laugh, then to cry, and finally to smile. You become a part of Anna's life. It's like magic.

I love Anna and Etienne. I love how real they feel. Anna moves to Paris scared and angry. Those feelings don't just disappear, but neither does she hide under a rock. She's funny, nice but not too nice, a good friend but capable of holding grudges...the list goes on. Etienne is a fabulous guy. He is smart, friendly, handsome but not perfectly so, flirty without being crude, scared of change. I love how they are both 3-dimensional characters. We all know that a "good book" has realistic, flawed characters, but so few get it right. Sometimes I feel like authors create this perfect person and then throw in some major shortcoming to fulfill their creative writing course formulas. Anna and Etienne (and all the other characters) feel real. They're great people with flaws that aren't huge or weird, but just the type that you or I might have. Moreoever, their flaws fit in with their personalities and the plot of the story.

The relationship between Anna and Etienne builds slowly. Particularly because Etienne has a girlfriend. And Anna has a guy back home that she likes. The two are clearly attracted to one another, but they both toe a line of propriety...although stepping over it a few times. Throughout a lot of the book you just wonder why Etienne doesn't break up with Ellie, but that is explored too. Even if it's not the right decision, it makes perfect sense with his character. Despite the slowness of their relationship, the plot never drags. There's always something interesting happening between Anna and Etienne and Anna's life in general.

The book is almost entirely a romance, but Anna and Etienne are far from the only characters. You have Bridge and Toph back at home. Then at SOAP, Meredith, Josh, and Rashmi. They are quick to welcome Anna into their circle. It's wonderful to read a story where the school plot isn't predominantly about the protagonist being tortured by a popular, mean girl (although there are aspects of that too). Anna, Etienne, Meredith, Josh, and Rashmi are a close group of friends; despite their internal drama, I really wish I'd found a group as cool as them when I was in high school.

And Paris. Who doesn't love Paris? The city isn't actually as big a character as I thought it might be. The story really could have been set in any big city and have been just as interesting. But I love how Paris is used as a supporting character. The sights the characters visit, the influence of French culture. It adds to the book but never overshadows it.

If I had any criticisms about this book, it might be the depictions of Anna and Etienne's fathers. They are depicted as one-dimensional jerks. Arguably, this is realistic because teens don't have the best perspective to view their parents as full people. But, still. So that's my only tiny criticism.

I cannot recommend Anna and the French Kiss highly enough. It is a model for what contemporary fiction can and should be. Truly marvelous.

Rating: 5 / 5

17 comments :

  1. Great review! I got this one for Christmas, and I'm so glad I did because I keep hearing the most AMAZING things about it.

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  2. I've heard so many great things about this book, I'm going to have to put it on my list.

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  3. Ok, geez...I swear every review for this is a 5/5. I am trying to read more contemps, so I guess this is where to start. Great review, Alison! :)

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  4. YAY! I LOVED this book. LOVED it, for all the reasons you stated in your review. I thought the slow progression of their relationship was fabulous and made me absolutely crazy with anticipation. Fantastic review Alison!

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  5. Awesome review!! I loved this book, and cannot wait to re-read it!

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  6. I'm really looking forward to reading this book. It sounds so adorable. <3 Thanks for the great review, Alison!

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  7. I've been looking forward to reading this book for a while. Great review!

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  8. Great review, Alison. I got finally got a copy of this at my library and I can't wait to read it. I'm now even more excited!

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  9. This book only had positive reviews (5/4) stars from what l have seen!
    Thanks for the review

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  10. Though I initially brushed this one aside because of the cover and title, all of these glowing reviews are getting to me. I simply must read this now! Great review, btw!

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  11. You are so lucky to have read this one! I feel like "Anna and..." is becoming almost too good to be true. I hope that when I finally read it it lives up to the hype!

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  12. Awesome review! I haven't read it yet, although from your review, it seems like I need to bump it up on my list!

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  13. Grr i am STILL waiting for my copy of this book *taps foot impatiently*

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  14. I loved this book it's great! I want to go to Paris!

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  15. I just read this book and I LOVED it! Loved, loved, loved it! I'm glad you loved it too :o) Fantastic review!

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  16. I really love this book, I was pleasantly surprised considering the title and everything. Great review. I agree, the fathers were a little one dimensional.

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  17. I absolutely loved this book! :) Great review! I'm glad you liked it.

    Sarah @ Smitten over Books

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