Anna was 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. So she’s 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? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt.
The thing I like best about reading contemporary novels is how easy it is to relate to the story. Without the magic and any other fantasy or sci-fi elements in the story, it’s easier for readers to put themselves in the characters’ situations. You don’t need to understand or figure out any underlying symbols in the story, and you feel that whatever happens in the story can also happen in real life.
However, I found that I’ve been increasingly picky about the contemporary books I’ve been reading this year. Contemporary novels is my first love in the YA genre, but lately I felt the same thing I feel about paranormal YA: what’s new? Everything I read sounds the same, give or take a little details, so…what else is there to read? Why even bother reading some if it’s the same as the last one?
So Anna and the French Kiss wasn’t high on my want list because of this, thinking that this is just one of those hyped books that everyone gushes about. Maybe I would read it, but it wasn’t in my priority list. It took Angie’s review to convince me to get it, especially when I got read this part of her review:
…Fortunately, her next door neighbor Meredith takes her under her wing and introduces her to her small circle of friends, including smart Rashmi, her goofy-but-talented boyfriend Josh, and one Étienne St. Clair–known to one and all simply as St. Clair. Anna has it pretty bad right from the start…the two of them hit if off immediately. But there is a fly in the ointment. Naturally. He also has a longtime girlfriend at a nearby college. And their mutual friend Meredith is in love with him. Which rather clearly spells steer clear for poor Anna.
From that moment, I knew I just had to get this book. I downloaded the Kindle sample, read it and enjoyed it before I slept and then bought it as soon as I was awake enough the next day. I’ve been itching to buy an ebook lately but I was hesitant to do an impulse buy, until Anna and the French Kiss, that is.
And I tell you: the impulse buy is absolutely worth it.
I can’t decide what really did me in the story as there’s just so many wonderful things inside. I liked how the book was set in Paris but it wasn’t focused on the Eiffel Tower but on other attractions that are normally forgotten in other books set in that city. I liked how real everything was in this book, how easy it was to be immersed in Anna’s world like I was actually there. I liked the little complexities in the plot and how it didn’t focus solely on the romance between the two major characters but in other very real issues as well: family issues, cancer, absent friends, and independence, just to name a few. These issues were addressed in a very smart and optimistic way without feeling like the book was trying to accomplish so much in so little time. While the exciting parts of the book weren’t really that surprising in the sense that you know it was bound to happen eventually, the pacing was perfect and the relationships were built on very solid foundations that you know that whatever happens, thing will be okay in the end.
Another thing about contemporary novels is no matter how real they are, I couldn’t really relate to them 100% because I could only find very small parts of myself in the heroines, or the situation they are in isn’t something that I would be in. Sure, I have never been to Paris or have been in another country for that long to study, but Anna’s relationship with St. Clair reminded me of something that happened to me a few years back. I won’t elaborate, but I will share a quote that could summarize it all:
I don’t want to feel this way around him. I want things to be normal. I want to be his friend, not another stupid girl holding out for something that will never happen.
Straight through the heart, right? I couldn’t stop seeing similarities between myself and Anna, and I think I lost count at how many times I could relate to her. I wished that I had read this book way back then because I bet this would have been my best friend. Although I am over that part of my life already, I cannot help but wish for a friend like St. Clair. He’s far from perfect, but he’s someone I’d want to be really good friends with. :)
There is so much I can write about this book, but really, it would be better if you just go find a copy and read it to see for yourself. I’ve been looking for a book to blow my mind after I’ve gone through some “okay” books in the past few weeks, and this one blew my mind (and my heart!) in a totally unexpected way. If Anna and the French Kiss was food, it would definitely be chocolate: the kind you cannot get enough of from the first bite so you keep on getting more, but you try to slow down to savor the taste and to stop it from running out too soon. I devoured the book in a couple of days, and I enjoyed every single word of it. I haven’t said this about a book for a while now, but I am not ashamed to say it for this one: I loved this book. :)
My copy: ebook from Amazon Kindle store
Cover and Blurb: Goodreads