Sunday, May 19, 2013

Anna and the French Kiss (Book Review)

Author: Stephanie Perkins
Year: 2010
Genre: Romance

Reading Level: Young Adult
Series: #1 in the Anna and the French Kiss series

Literary Awards:
Cybils Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction (2011), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Goodreads Author, Young Adult Fiction (2010), The Inky Awards Nominee for Silver Inky longlist (2011), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2013)

Plot Summary: Anna is devastated when her father sends her to an exclusive boarding school in Paris for her senior year.  But once there, despite language barriers and being the awkward new kid, she settles in and even grows to enjoy her new life.  It doesn't hurt that her new life includes the super dreamy Étienne St. Clair.  Too bad he has a girlfriend...

Red Flags: Language, some teenage lustiness, some (legal-in-France) teenage drinking (with consequences)

My Rating: B+/A-
This one was so hard to rate--for the most part, I really liked it, but I had a couple of hangups that kept me from rating it high overall.  At first I thought Anna was a little too stream of consciousness, but once she kind of settled into the narrative, I enjoyed the writing a lot.  Anna was likable and I (very) easily related to her fish-out-of-water feelings (especially when she wrote down what people said and did at the movie theater--hah!). For the most part, the story hit that sweet spot of fun teen angst without taking itself TOO seriously.  Towards the end it started to go a bit overboard and I rolled my eyes a bit.  

One of the high points for me was all the description of Paris.  It felt real and natural, with enough detail to sound accurate but not so much that it read like a series of factoids.  I thought surely Stephanie Perkins had been there, but when she came to my local library last week I learned she hadn't.  Instead she put her librarian-honed research skills to work and learned everything she could about everything Paris.  Well done, Stephanie Perkins.  Well done.

My main issue is with the Étienne the dreamboat.  I liked that he was nice and generally a good guy.  I didn't like that he was really terrible to his girlfriend for pretty much the whole book.  How could I think he was a real catch when he was such an emotional cheater?  Not cool.  I could let Anna's behavior slide, but he knew what was going on and I didn't find his justifications very convincing at all.  I just can't get giggly about the romance when so much of it was people knowingly hurting others.  (Also Anna started channeling Bella Swan a bit too much toward the end with all of her "Beautiful
Étienne!" thoughts, haha)

But still, overall, it was a good read with some funny moments and likable characters--most of them anyway.

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