Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Re-Reading Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Release Date: December 2, 2010
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
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 Étienne 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)
Check out my first review of Anna and the French Kiss!
Isla and the Happily Ever After came out last week. I've been looking forward to this book for years. I adore Stephanie Perkins' books. I was tempted to pick up the novel immediately, but decided to re-read Anna and the French Kiss to get back into the mood. I'm really glad I did. Unlike Lola and the Boy Next Door, Isla is set at SOAP - the same school in Paris that Anna and Etienne attended. Isla actually takes place at the same time as Lola.
Josh - the leading romantic interest in Isla is a significant character in Anna. Isla is mentioned in passing. Re-reading Anna helped me significantly to remember who Josh is and to reacquaint myself with the SOAP setting.
My feelings for Anna and the French Kiss both changed and stayed the same on my second read.
This time around, I came to the realization that I don't really like Anna. She is whiny. She is ungrateful. I mentioned in my initial review that she was a three dimensional character and that she had a tendency to hold grudges. I definitely still think this is true, but I judge her more harshly this time. I think she is self-centered. What Anna wants, Anna should get. She never bothers to put herself in other people's shoes and consider why they are doing things she doesn't like. Like her dad forcing her to move to Paris to attend an elite boarding school. What an abused child she is. Like refusing to answer her best friend's repeated apologies for stealing the boy Anna liked, despite the fact that they never officially dated and Anna was 3000 miles away. When Anna doesn't get what she wants, she pouts, she fumes, she sulks. She is like a toddler.
With my increased distaste for Anna as a person, you might think that I didn't like the book as much this time around. You'd be wrong. Despite wanting to throttle Anna and make sure her every desire is thwarted, I fell into the story. I love Etienne. He is one of the kindest, funniest, most genuine love interests I've ever read in YA. Despite the fact that he has a girlfriend (other than Anna) for almost the entire novel. Etienne is not just a Manic Pixie Dream Boy. His own flaws (inability to be alone, inability to break up with his girlfriend, and his family troubles) also drive the novel. He is not only around to boost up Anna.
I love Anna together with Etienne. They have an incredible chemistry. Anna becomes a better person - more compassionate, wittier and less selfish when she is around Etienne. (Well, less selfish other than the fact that she is in love with another girl's boyfriend and the long-standing crush of her good friend). I rooted for them to get together almost immediately. Because they just feel right.
Anna and the French Kiss is a near perfect novel for another reason - the way the romance between Anna and Etienne developed. Even though there is instant chemistry, their relationship is a slow burn. They become incredibly close friends. I think even if they hadn't become an item, their friendship would have stood the test of time. Etienne brought Anna out of her shell. Anna was able to get beyond Etienne's friendly veneer and see the real, layered person beneath.
The best part about re-reading Anna and the French Kiss is discovering that I love it just as much as I did the first time. I may not have as much patience with Anna as I originally did, but I like the person she becomes as the novel progresses. And I love everything about Etienne. What could be better than a boarding school romance in Paris?