- Release Date: December 2, 2010
- Publisher: Dutton (Penguin)
- Pages: 372
- Genre: Contemporary
This book has been on my to-read list since I saw this video where John Green practically gushed about it. I finally bought it in 2012 and its one of those books that sat on my shelf for so long I forgot about. I ended up picking this out of the TBR book jarand I figured it was about time, especially since book three in this series comes out later this year.
The titular Anna is the daughter of a Nicholas Sparks expy who decides that for Anna’s senior year she is going to The School of America in Paris, an American boarding school right in the city of love. There she joins up with a close knit group of friends and Étienne St. Clair, the American boy with a French name and English accent. Yes, you read that right.
Now, I’ve read a lot of contemporary YAs and Anna and The French Kiss hits all the usual marks:
Girl who is pretty, but doesn’t see it ? Check
Nice, hot guy, everyone likes ? Check
Mean girl ? Check
References to literature and philosophical concepts that call back to the plot ? Check
But, something about the way Stephanie Perkins uses these concepts feels new. I’d been kind of in a slump of ” good but not great” books and this completely broke it for me. I read this during Bout of Books and just flew through it. Perkins subverts the typical YA romance trope where a girls life changes because she meets a boy and actually does the a girl changes her life and meets a boy. Anna grows up a lot in the time she spends in Paris away from her family and all that is familiar.
Anna’s first person narration is full of personality and humor. She can be boy crazy, emotional, and self-conscious, but she also has her film studies that provide her a space to be comfortable and confident. Despite falling for Etienne from their first meeting I liked that there were several times in the novel where Anna concedes that if Etienne just wants to be friends she will respect that. The fact that she had other things she could concentrate on made her feel like a fully dimensional character.
Anna and Etienne worked really well of each other, I liked how reciprocal their relationship was. Anna is there for him as much as he is there for her. He shows her the hidden gems and beauty of Paris and she gives him the encouragement and support to deal with his family issues.
The setting is also the star in this novel. Perkins places the school Anna attends right in the middle of Paris and I felt like I was getting an inside look into the city. Perkins goes beyond the typical iconic locations (the Eiffel Tower is a only a brief mention) and explores the churches and ruins in the city. And I think it goes without saying that the Paris food scene sounds amazing.
Anna and The French Kiss is an absolutely charming YA romance with an excellent mix of humor, swoons and heart.
I’m a lifelong reader who started blogging about YA books in 2011 but now I read in just about every genre! I love YA coming of age stories, compelling memoirs and genre bending SFF. You can find me talking all things romance at Romance and Sensibility.