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Anna and the French Kiss

Review

Anna and the French Kiss

During her senior year of high school, Anna Oliphant is sent to a boarding school in Paris. Being separated from her friends and having to make new ones in a city she's entirely unfamiliar with is not exactly how she thought she'd be spending her last year of high school. Sure, it may be Paris, but who would want to spend their final year with their friends away from their friends?

Anna cries during her first night in Paris. It’s so loud, in fact, that she makes her first friend, a neighbor who is kind enough to check in on her. That's also when she meets Étienne St. Clair, the resident unavailable hottie, who has a glamorous girlfriend now in college. Every girl at SOAP (School of America in Paris) knows that Étienne, or St. Clair as he’s more often called, is off-limits. And Anna has a maybe-sorta love interest of her own back home.

So the two have nothing to worry about, right?

If it’s not love at first sight, Anna and Étienne’s relationship starts off in a much more sincere way: as friends. Friends who, despite any growing attraction they might have to one another, laugh together, see movies, argue --- in short, they learn to speak the other’s language. There are inside jokes, moments that will have you bawling because of the pure funny, and, of course, times when you just want to throw up your hands and say, “Kiss already!”

But they won’t, because Anna does what she can to be the best friend she can be to Étienne, at a time when he needs a friend more than another romance. Anna is an incredibly smart and likable, quirky character, with a voice I found myself enjoying at every turn. She is fully drawn, down to her singular stripe of bleached blond hair. And that’s not to say she’s perfect. No --- these characters are flawed in ways that we all are flawed. Even Étienne, who I found myself completely charmed by, isn’t perfect. Thanks to an extremely overbearing (and that’s an understatement) father who keeps him on a tight leash, Étienne is averse to change --- even when a situation may call for it. It’s a flaw that is believable and forgivable enough that you’ll still be rooting for him in the end.

Stephanie Perkins has woven something much more than just a romance here; it’s a story of friendship and yet also a story of independence, all the while deftly attending to the characters’ individual problems at home and school. ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS succeeds on all accounts. When I put the book down after reading it, I was, quite frankly, left giddy. And then I wanted to read it all over again.

Reviewed by Jordana Frankel on December 2, 2010

Anna and the French Kiss
by Stephanie Perkins

  • Publication Date: August 4, 2011
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Speak
  • ISBN-10: 0142419400
  • ISBN-13: 9780142419403