Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss, #1
Release Date: August 4th 2011
Can Anna find love in the City of Light?
Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her co-worker at the movie theatre, who is just starting to return her affection. So she’s not too pleased when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year. But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new friends, including the handsome Étienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he’s taken—and Anna might be too. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she’s been waiting for?
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
After reading what I call heavy contemporary YA books, such as Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and The Sky is Everywhere I needed something light and fluffy next, something where the main tension was nothing more than the will-they-won’t-they between two characters. Anna and the French Kiss definitely fit that theme, it was quick read but light and fluffy with a cute relationship between two characters.
It’s her senior year and Anna has been sent away from her mum and her brother, away from her best friend, and away from the crush to attend the School of America in Paris. She isn’t happy, she can’t even speak French, but her parents decided this for her and she has no other choice. Luckily she isn’t alone for long. She meets Meredith, her next door neighbour, who takes Anna under her wing and introduces her to all her friends, including Étienne St. Clair.
Anna immediately falls for Étienne, but he has a girlfriend whom he has been with for ages and whom he obviously loves, and back home Anna has Toph, her crush who she hopes has become something more. Instead of pining over Étienne Anna becomes his friend, and as she struggles to adjust in her new school and in a new country, still missing her friends and family back home, Étienne becomes someone she relies on.
Anna and the French Kiss follows Anna, Étienne, and the rest of their friends as they struggle through their senior year in Paris. As Anna and Étienne both struggle with their feelings for one another there are other factors in their life which come up which could tear them apart before they have a chance to begin their relationship.
Anna struggles to adjust in Paris which was interesting to read; she doesn’t instantly make friends and feel confident in her new school, she doesn’t pick up French within the week and struggles with some of the aspects of learning a new language from scratch. Anna loves the movies, she wants to be a famous critic one day, it’s a major aspect of her life and her character.
I wouldn’t say Anna is an over confident person. She has her strengths and her weaknesses which she works to conquer. At first she doesn’t like that her parents have forced her to Paris for her last year of high school but after a while the city becomes home to her. Étienne and the rest of her friends become her home and seeing her development alone throughout the story was wonderful to read.
Étienne has been at the School of American in Paris for a while now and he is pretty much friends with everyone. He has a very open and charming personality which draws people to him and it’s easy in that way to see why Anna is attracted to him. Étienne doesn’t like to talk much about himself, he avoids mentioning his father and even where he is planning to go to college next year but he talks a lot about Paris and about history. He introduces Anna to Paris, drawing her out of her shell and almost forcing her to branch out and become a more confident person.
While Anna likes Étienne pretty much instantly she isn’t one to pine after him. Although she doesn’t understand why he still stays with his girlfriend when he clearly isn’t happy she is content to be his friend. I loved the relationship between Anna and Étienne; the way it developed slowly and over time as they started off friends but eventually became something more. Étienne wants to make things work with Ellie because he doesn’t want to be alone, which is understandable but all the while Anna is waiting for him to notice that she is always there for him as well.
The one thing I didn’t like about the relationship between Anna and Étienne was the constant back and forth between the two of them. There were so many times when the tension between them could have been solved if they’d just taken the time to talk to one another about their feelings and why they were acting the way they were. I didn’t mind it so much at the beginning of the story but when the same thing was happening still towards the end of the book it started to get on my nerves a little.
The secondary characters in Anna and the French Kiss were all wonderfully developed as well. I really liked Mer’s character; she was incredibly smart, had a bright future, and even though she too had a crush on Étienne she didn’t let it get in the way of their friendship. Even Josh and Rashmi had their ups and downs as characters, their own motivations and fears pulling them forwards and holding them back. Just because they weren’t a massive part of the main story, that being Anna’s and Étienne’s relationship, didn’t mean they were ignored and given the bare minimum of development.
Paris is such a beautiful city, I’ve been there twice already and I’d love to go back again one day, and it really came alive in this book. Paris is a city full of theatres and movies, and for Anna it is full of opportunity. She soaks it all in but it’s really through Étienne that Anna, and us as readers, really see the city. As Étienne shows Anna Paris, taking her to all the sites she’s only ever heard about before, he talks about the city he’s lived in for so long and its history; how Notre Dame was saved by Victor Hugo’s book, how Point Zero is the point from which all other distances in France are measured. There is so much of the city explored in this book and it was wonderful to read, despite the story mainly being of Anna and Étienne and their relationship the setting around them was richly built and beautiful to read. It made me want to hope on the train and head back over to Paris.
I really enjoyed this story, it was a light read, however I do think I would have enjoyed it more if I’d read it when I was younger. The back and forth between Anna and Étienne started to annoy me a little towards the end, so many of their problems would have been solved so much earlier if they had just spoken to one another. In the end though I couldn’t help but love both Anna and Étienne, and I really enjoyed their story.
What did you think of Anna and the French Kiss? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.