Anna and the French Kiss
by Stephanie Perkins
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Big Themes: France, First Love, Film Studies, Betrayal, Family, Cancer
Anna Oliphant is sent to an international school in Paris by her father against her will. She misses her friends and is intimidated by everything French. But a boy named Etienne St. Clair makes France begin to feel like home as Anna falls in love for the first time.
What I Liked:
Everyone in the blogosphere loves this book. I’d heard enough gushing about Anna and Etienne St. Clair that I had to give it a try, despite the fact that contemporary fiction isn’t what I gravitate towards. (I’m more of a fantasy, science fiction, and historical fiction gal because I want to escape from the real world when I read.)
So I must say that this book was quite charming, and both Anna and Etienne were very likable characters. Anna is very much a teenage girl who is just figuring out the world of boys, and her narrative definitely takes you back to your own teen years. Her “firsts” and her confusion and the strength of her emotions are powerful. You will feel like you are 17 again. Etienne is equally real with his flaws as well as his endearing qualities. The way he supports Anna and their blooming friendship will set you up to love him.
The little elements of France (famous sites, food, language) make this book unique and refreshing compared to a traditional United States contemporary high school setting. And Anna’s passion for film and all the little film references were another fun little touch.
What I Didn’t Like:
There were parts that were predictable (Toph) and I would grow frustrated with Anna sometimes when she didn’t see things that seemed so blindingly clear. But Anna was just 17, and an authentic teenage perspective should include mistakes. So I should cut her some slack.
And Etienne St. Clair was a great male lead, but he didn’t quite do it for me in terms of a literary dream dude. I kind of kept wishing he had a hobby or passion in life. I would have loved if they developed the history/fact thing in him more because that made him really interesting. The author defined him more through his relationships with his parents instead of his interests. I’m getting picky here, but it’s because this book won’t be getting a perfect 5 stars and I feel the need to justify that.
4 stars for a well-developed and authentic contemporary teen romance