Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):
“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 Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he’s taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.
As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near – misses end with the French kiss Anna – and readers – have long awaited?”
Thoughts: Anna and the French Kiss can be summed up into two, maybe three words: perky, cute, and fun. It isn’t earth-shattering literature or even unique. It is your quintessential girl-meets-boy story, and yet, there is something about it that is simply charming.
Anna herself is adorable in a quirky fashion. She is insecure, borderline obsessive, and somewhat weak. On the surface, it appears like a bad combination. Instead, Ms. Perkins endears Anna to the reader by making her vulnerable. She symbolizes anyone who has ever been thrust into an unfamiliar surrounding and told to make the best of it, whether that situation is a board meeting, parent-teacher conference, moving to a new town, or even moving to a foreign country. Her idiosyncrasies are not swept under the rug but rather mentioned often enough to become a defining characteristic. It all works to make Anna an engaging character.
Paris has to be mentioned as a character on its own, as it defines Anna’s experiences. Living in Paris is not the same thing as being a tourist in Paris, and Ms. Perkins is able to show the difficulties as well as the charms of living in a foreign city. Language barriers are only half the problems, something with Ms. Perkins showcases adeptly. Paris loses none of its mystique through Anna’s biased eyes but rather comes alive in a fashion that one normally does not get in movies or other media. It is a very intimate picture of Paris that breathes life into this age-old drama.
While others are raving about Anna and the French Kiss, calling it one of their favorite reads in the past year, I was not quite as impressed. I enjoyed it, but I did not get swept up in its pages. I found it charming, cute, and light but there was nothing ground-breaking about it. The story itself is predictable; the characters and the setting are what make the story come alive. While I am glad I read it, it was too formulaic to be considered among my favorites for the year.