Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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 Etienne 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 Annam and readers, have long awaited?


OPINION: 4 STARS

The Short Version:
A romantic, humorous and emotional ride filled with plenty of misunderstandings and miscommunications, Anna and the French Kiss is an overall well down romance. Though there are subplots and side stories, the focus is the romance in this one. The chemistry between Anna and St. Clair is there from the start, and their interactions took on a range of settings and manners. Though I thought the beginning of the book dragged and took too long to get to the actual dynamic of why they wanted each other and weren’t going for it, overall, this was well played out and taking in everything that comes with teenage awkwardness, crushes, confusion and obligations.

The Extended Version:
Anna was a hard character for me to really get into, primarily because there always seemed to be a wall around her even with the reader. Dropped in Paris mostly against her will, and frustrated with her parents for it, she struggles with being unsure in a foreign city, unable to speak the language, and of course there’s her almost immediate crush on St. Clair. Once those walls go down a little, however, Anna is sweet and introspective, able to see many things in a new light despite missing plenty of other obvious things. She is emotional and intense at times, but fun loving and a great friend overall. She has her flaws, but she also acknowledges them when the time is right and it is this fact, and how well she learns from her mistakes, that really sets this one apart from many other books.

St. Clair is seemingly perfect at the start, though he handles a few rough situations less than fluidly. This was both good and bad, as it did make for a slightly stereotypical romantic lead, but the reasons for why he was so kind, so caring, and so devoted came out throughout the story. The British side of him shined through often, adding its own bit of humor through Anna’s American eyes. St. Clair most certainly did make some mistakes, and a few of those provided a strong driving force for the plot, and were possibly even blown out of proportion in severity through Anna’s eyes, which also added a very realistic angle.

The rest of the cast is overall small, centering around St. Clair’s three friends that were there from the start, along with a few other students at the school. There is the stereotypical mean, pretty girl and the jerky guy who just wants to get laid, but within St. Clair and now Anna’s group, they are just normal, friendly kids that are easy to identify with.

The beginning of this book was very slow for me. I felt it was a repetitive cycle of Anna’s self pity, her feelings for St. Clair she was denying despite the truth of them, and getting hints of reciprocation from St. Clair but overall, it was the same few things. After a certain point, however, things finally started picking up and the real drama between St. Clair and Anna having feelings for each other begins. Compounded by a seemingly endless string of things, they have several perfect days together, only to turn around and have even worse distancing. The give and take, elastic nature of their relationship was so painfully realistic, eliciting striking emotions from both. There are a few very strong, very emotional and very poignant scenes involving these two, showing them at their worst and rawest, and Perkins navigates these gracefully.

Perkins’ writing is fantastic, giving a voice to Anna while tying in not only St. Clair’s British accent but his fluidity in French and the Parisian setting. The setting is brought to life in beautiful, fantastic ways, never letting the reader forget this isn’t a boarding school in the States. The cultural differences were included without being cliché or stereotypical, and the way Anna chose to spend her free time still kept ties to her natural personality and her as an American.

Overall, Anna and the French Kiss is great for any romantic. With a very give and take, back and forth nature, frustrating at just wanting the two to get together, and plenty of unforeseeable snags, twists and turns, this book is handled well for being mostly a focused romance. Despite the slow start, there is a connection with Anna and even St. Clair by the end, and events really pick up and happen in some surprising ways.

Details:
Source: Borrowed ARC from a friend
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (December 2, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0525423273
ISBN-13: 978-0525423270

3 comments:

  1. Insightful review, thanks for sharing!

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  2. I was wondering what your were going to think about this book. I did not realize that it's nearly 400 pages...wow! This is one that is already on my TBR list.
    Great review as always!

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  3. This is a great review and I'm glad you enjoyed the book! I'm in love with it and can't wait to have a finished copy sitting on my shelves. :-)

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