Stephanie Perkins' Anna and the French Kiss: YA Heads to Paris
Stephanie Perkins' Anna and the French Kiss tells the story of Anna, a teen girl shipped abroad to Paris by her bestselling-author father (a thinly veiled Nicholas Sparks-like figure) for her senior year because he feels the need to keep up with his new wealthy friends. She leaves behind her best friend and her new crush in Atlanta and heads for boarding school with no small amount of trepidation. The odds are stacked against her, but Anna quickly finds a small group of new friends and among them is Etienne St. Clair, a cute American boy with a British accent and a French name. Who has a girlfriend. The attraction is instant but it’s a classic will-they-or-won’t-they story that will keep you reading hungrily till the end.
It’s rare for me to actually feel transported while reading a book. You know what I mean -- where you truly feel as though you’re in a specific place that the author has created, with all of the characters’ emotions and sights and sounds. Anna and the French Kiss did that for me. Maybe it’s because I’ve had the study abroad experience (though I studied abroad in London, not in Paris), but I was right there with Anna as she navigated a new city on her own. Stephanie Perkins does a wonderful job of evoking Paris with small vignettes of Parisian life that rang true with my own trip to the capital of France. She also describes French food exquisitely and I actually became quite hungry reading about Anna eating bread. (There’s nothing like freshly baked French bread, is there? But I digress.)
The romance between Anna and Etienne is realistic. And I mean that as the highest compliment. I’ve read plenty of romance novels in my day and a lot of them tend to jump far too quickly to love. It’s all about the build-up, people. That’s where the sparks happen.
All in all, I definitely recommend Anna and the French Kiss, especially as a fun summer read.