Author: Stephanie Perkins
Published: December 2nd, 2010 (Dutton Juvenile)
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: Three Stars
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?
Cover Thoughts: I purchased the new paperback cover of this book which I prefer to the original. The cover is gorgeous, I love the font. I love how simple and elegant it seems. The pink cover really makes me think it’s a romance.
First Line: Here is everything I know about France: Madeline and Amelie and Moulin Rouge.
Contains slight spoilers
After hearing about all the raving for this series by Stephanie Perkins, I decided to purchase Anna and The French Kiss. I read this book for the #IslaIsComing read-along which occurred in the beginning of August. I wanted to see if it lived up to all of the hype and rave reviews I had been hearing about.
I instantly fell in love with Anna and The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins in the first paragraph. Anna begins by stating everything she knows about Paris. She lists things such as Moulin Rouge, the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and kings named Louis. In the beginning I found her to be a nice, relatable, and funny character.
I loved Anna and The French Kiss for the most part. This contemporary Young Adult romance takes place in the most romantic city in the world, Paris. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to go there, right? Our protagonist, Anna, for one. She’s suddenly thrust into SOAP, School of America in Paris, a boarding school when her Nicholas Sparks-esque father wants to boost his image. I found the creation of a character just like Nicholas Sparks was a humorous and creative touch from Perkins. Anna is upset about being sent to boarding school for a few reasons, Bridget, her best friend, Topher, her almost boyfriend and the fact that it’s her senior year.
There are several things I loved about Anna and The French Kiss. I loved how easy the writing style was to read without being overly simple. I loved seeing Anna explore Paris on her own, Perkins description of Paris was lovely. I liked how Perkins incorporated different Paris buildings into the story such as Point Zero Des Routes De France, meaning Point Zero of the roads of France, where Anna and St. Clare first go.
Both Anna and St. Clare have notable flaws. Anna has her front teeth slightly crooked and a bleached stripe in her hair which causes people to call her skunk. Etienne is notably shorter than Anna and has slightly crooked bottom teeth. I like that they weren’t completely perfect looking. I liked St. Clare a bit. At times he seemed a little too good to be true, offering to take Anna out when he found out she hadn’t left her room. He was a very confident, charming and self assured character. You can think of him sort of as Ferris Bueller, everyone loves him.
We learn of Anna’s home life, she has parents and a brother. St. Clare has parents and doesn’t get along with his father for a few reasons. Anna wants to be a famous film critic and has her own blog which is something I really enjoyed knowing about and related slightly to. St. Clare enjoys history, something else I can relate to.
After Anna, we meet Meredith, a girl who lives next door to Anna in the dorms. I felt Meredith wasn’t very well written or used. She was an extremely nice character in the beginning. Later in Anna and The French Kiss, Meredith didn’t seem to be of any use or function in the story. The only thing we find out about Meredith is that she also likes St. Clare, used to be friends with St. Clare’s girlfriend and her parents don’t suck. I feel Perkins could have elaborated Meredith’s character to form more of a background. I felt bad for Meredith because she liked St. Clare, but she’s stuck being friend-zoned. St. Clare was given a mostly solid background. We find out about his home life and his parents. Through Meredith, Anna meets St. Clare. St. Clare’s first name is Etienne, but he goes by his last name instead. He has a girlfriend named Ellen.
Beyond the main characters of Anna and St. Clare, I felt character development and background to be greatly lacking. I found Anna and St. Clare to be mostly well written. I loved Anna’s sarcasm, how she jumped to the worst conclusions, and her obsession with being clean. It was relatable to see her fearing exploring Paris and even attempting to order food in the cafe.
Another character whose development bothered me was Bridget. Bridget is Anna’s best friend before she moves to Paris. Anna kept in contact with Bridget after she moved to Paris which was good. Their friendship was nice to see. Later over Christmas break though, something happens, which I predicted and they have a falling out. I have a problem with this falling out for several reasons, the main one being Anna is a hypocrite about it because she acted in a similar way to Bridget throughout the book.
There are several other characters that seem to just fill the trope role such as Amanda, the typical mean girl who we don’t find out much about. There’s Ellen, St. Clare’s girlfriend who for some reason has to be the typical “bad” girlfriend that is wrong for St. Clare. One thing I’m thankful for is that the typical mean girl and the typical bad girlfriend were not the same person. Then there’s Meredith, who again, was simply friend-zoned. Other characters included are Rashmi and Josh. Both of these characters are friends of St. Clare and Meredith’s initially. Rashmi and Josh date each other. Rashmi gets a little more information about her when she explains to Anna how she has problems involving her parents, sister and school. It was nice to hear about someone other than Anna and St. Clare dealing with their own problems unrelated to Anna and St. Clare.
This is the typical boy and girl meet, they’re attracted to each other but for whatever reason, they can’t be together. This was very annoying because after a few scenes, it was obvious that they needed to just talk to each other. There’s an instance when Anna and St. Clare weren’t talking to each other and I just wanted to shake them both because they were being ridiculous about it.
Due to the inevitable Happily Ever After aspect of the title, readers know there will be a happy ending. The problem is getting there. Throughout Anna and St. Clare getting together, there was a lot of drama. It seemed unnecessary for so much of it to happen. There are girl fights, significant other fights, best friend fights, love triangles, then love squares, sickness, betrayal, jealousy, and friends ignoring each other. I wish Perkins had narrowed down on the drama because there was an overload of it.
Anna was mostly likable until about halfway through the book during Thanksgiving Break. This is where I had a big problem with Anna and The French Kiss in general. My problem with it involves Anna and St. Clare hanging out with each other in a way I can only describe as cheating even without physical touch. It was very annoying to read about Anna and St. Clare hanging out with each other so much to the point Anna actually considers herself more St. Clare’s friend than Meredith was despite only knowing him three months. Later in Anna and The French Kiss there is actual cheating which I absolutely despised reading about.
I found Anna to be a very oblivious and annoying character in the second half. In the second half she goes home for Winter Break. Over Winter Break she seemed very snobby after being in Paris for only three months yet criticizing a lot in America. I hated how she acted towards Bridge and ended up shutting her out.
Anna has a problem with Ellen and thinks I still don’t like her for no reason at one point in the book. Later in Anna and The French Kiss, Anna thinks Why doesn’t she like me? I haven’t done anything to her, despite thinking about how she didn’t like Ellen. Why would she care if Ellen has a problem with her, if she already didn’t like Ellen? This is where I wish Perkins would have expanded on Ellen’s character. Without any real background, other than she used to be Rashmi’s best friend and graduated from SOAP last year, she just seemed like the typical “wrong”, “bad” girlfriend just so Anna would have a clean pass to date St. Clare. Anna also bothered me because it takes her forever to realize she’s in the wrong about something, if she even realizes it. A lot of her behavior was very hypocritical which I did not like at all. It was a big step back from the Anna in the beginning.
I hated the way St. Clare was with Anna while being in a relationship Ellen. I didn’t like how he strung along Anna while dating Ellen and wouldn’t break up with her for one reason or another. It seemed to cause a lot of unnecessary drama. I wish Anna and St. Clare hadn’t been together like a couple when Anna was supposed to like Toph and St. Clare was in a relationship. Anna and The French Kiss really only revolved around St. Clare and Anna.
Despite all this, I mostly enjoyed Anna and The French Kiss. It was romantic, had a great setting, was well written and I could relate to multiple characters in some aspects. I ended up tearing and hugging the book once I reached the end. I did like Anna’s character a lot. She was mostly well written and had flaws. I wish she was a better friend to Meredith and Bridget than she was at times, but everyone makes mistakes. I liked the way her and St. Clare’s friendship built up over a year. There was no instalove between them, for the most part. There is an instance between them that we find out about in the end of the book which bothered me.
Through all of the drama and annoyances, I finished this book in roughly three days. It was hard to put down even when I needed breaks from it. I enjoyed it quite a bit. This is a light contemporary romance which I think a lot of readers will enjoy. There were sad moments, happy moments, annoying moments, drama filled moments and moments that made me laugh. There were several “aw” moments regarding Anna and St. Clare, most notably at Notre Dame. There are a few predictable moments as well in Anna and the French Kiss. I may not have liked Anna and The French Kiss as much as others because of the drama, love triangles and characters. Due to the flaws of the characters, drama and plot, I can only rate this three stars. I do still recommend Anna and The French Kiss.