What I’m Reading Now: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
What’s It About (Jacket Description): Note: I personally think this jacket description is really bad. Please give the book a chance, despite the terrible description!
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. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.
But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?
Do I Like It: Much, much more than I ever expected to!
Thoughts: I admit, I resisted this book for a long time. I won’t say I judged the book by its cover, but I definitely judged it by its title, which I still maintain is terrible, and the concept, which I might have been mistaken in judging so harshly. Clearly, I was wrong about this book. So, so wrong. Anna and the French Kiss is delightful. I was not prepared for how much I am loving this book.
For starters, there’s Anna – easily the best part of the book. She feels like a friend already. I love her slightly germaphobic and hyper-neat quirks, her love of movies, her language difficulties (which, at least as far as modern languages go, I can totally sympathize with.) I even love the bleached streak in her hair. And Kim Mai Guest, the narrator of my audiobook, absolutely brings Anna to life. If I didn’t know better, I’d think an actual teenager was narrating this book. I know it comes up over and over again in my reviews, but in a book with a first person narrator, liking the narrator –or at least feeling like the narrator is a real, interesting person – is so important. Luckily, Stephanie Perkins nails it with Anna.
I was also resistant to Anna and the French Kiss on the basis of the romance. Now, I love a good romantic arc in a book as much as the next person, but the plot description made the love story sound super cheesy and melodramatic, and like romance would be all there was to the book. But as it turns out, the plot description – like the title – is kind of terrible. Yes, there’s a meet-cute, and St. Clair is impossibly dreamy, but this romance has some legs to it. Anna and St. Clair are fully fleshed out, flawed, and fabulous characters. The factors that separate them ring true, rather than feeling forced, and the sparks between them practically shoot off the page (or out of the speakers, in this case.) So far, the swoons are increasing along with the frustration of their separation, and I am enjoying every minute of it.
But romance certainly isn’t the only thing going on in Anna’s life. I’m loving getting to know her group of friends in France (and wishing I could see more of her Atlanta BFF Bridget!) and I’m desperately wishing I could be in Paris and getting to know the city at the same time as Anna. Her whole world comes alive, and I’m finding myself dying to read more just to get into the setting. I think I’d be happy to read a whole book just about Anna’s Parisian meals with her friends (which is good, because mealtimes are kind of a big thing so far in this book.)
I cannot tell you how happy I am that I grabbed Anna and the French Kiss. Once again, taking a chance and trying something new has paid off in a big way. If you like great characters, or stories about someone finding their way in a new place, or great romances, or great narration, or any combination of those things, I highly recommend ignoring the lousy title and the cheesy description, and picking up Anna and the French Kiss. I myself can’t wait to get back in my car and hear more about Anna, St. Clair, their friends, and Paris.