Sunday, June 26, 2011

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins


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 Étienne St. Claire: 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?

From Goodreads

If you’re thinking that ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins sounds silly or trite, push that thought out of your head right now. This book is not whatever you’re thinking it is—and I bet I was thinking the same thing you were when I first heard about it. After all, the book has been out for close to a year now and despite all the rave reviews I’ve read, I just...had no interest in reading this book. It sounded like a straight-forward romance. I mean, it has “kiss” in the title. (When sold at auction, the book was titled ANNA AND THE BOY MASTERPIECE, which isn’t much better...) The cover is so light and breezy. You would think this is a straightforward romance for teens, right?

Wrong, wrong, wrong. This book will defy every one of your expectations going into it. It’s not even about French kissing. I mean, sure, there are characters that make-out, but this book is not about a girl obsessed with kissing a cute boy. Yes, it’s about falling in love for the first time, but it’s also so much more. I picked this book up before going to bed thinking it would put me to sleep. I was up late finishing this book and bleary-eyed for work in the morning!

The novel revolves around a girl named Anna, whose father decides to ship her off to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year of high school. She’s forced to leave her mother and brother, as well as her friends and the boy she was about to start dating. Not only that, Anna doesn’t speak a word of French. She’s dreading the year to come and furious at her father. Anna is fortunate in that she makes friends with Meredith, her new next-door neighbor, and immediately has a circle of people to make friends with. This includes, of course, Étienne St. Claire, a swoon-worthy male she stands no chance with. He already has a girlfriend, for one thing. For another, he only sees her as a friend. The heart of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS is in the way Perkins builds her character relationships, not just between Anna and Étienne, but everyone else as well. The friendships are solid; readers will wish they had been part of such a close-knit group in school. The author has a way of creating moments that will break your heart, ones that will make you go back and re-read certain passages after finishing the book (Hands up if you did. Don’t be shy! I did, too...), ones that hover as delicately as a butterfly, making you want to stay on that one page forever. The characterization reminds me a lot of UNEARTHLY by Cynthia Hand, another book that took me by surprise this year. I’m a sucker for well-written characters that have me rooting for everyone, even minor characters.

The best thing about ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS is that it has no cliffhanger ending. It’s not part of a series designed to leave you hanging between books. Granted, you’ll still want to know what happens to various characters, but Perkins has stated that we’ll be seeing cameos in this fall’s LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR (Sept. 29, 2011), and ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER (Fall 2012). I cannot wait to read both of these, as well as any other books Perkins writes in the future. I tend to like books that take place at boarding schools—and ones with boys who live next door, so these books are win/win for me!

COVER DESIGN

I love the colors in this cover. I like that the designer didn’t go with a bubble-gum pink cover that screams chick-lit. The only bubble gum is in the “and the” part of the title, surrounded by a pale green mirrored by the grass. I like that the Eiffel Tower is in the background, letting readers know the book takes place in France. I also appreciate the way you can’t see Étienne’s face, which allows readers to envision him in whatever their own definition of “hot” is. The cover and title do scream romance, which threw me off this fantastic book for the better part of a year. Don’t make the same mistake I did. READ THIS BOOK!

10 comments:

  1. I loved Anna and never thought I would either! It was kind of a cover I was embarrassed to be seen with because it felt really girly but I brought it out to a coffee shop anyways because I couldn't put it down! Awesome review and totally agree that I loved all the characters, even the minor ones. Glad you enjoyed it!!!

    We always end up reviewing and posting the same things :D No wonder I like your blog so much!

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  2. @Vy: I know! That cover..and title...made me not want to borrow the book and let my co-workers see what I was reading. I found a copy used for cheap and couldn't resist. I admit that I took the cover off (though I normally do to read anyway).

    LOL, I just said the same thing to you about how we are always reading/reviewing the same thing at the same time!!

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  3. Haha! Love it!! Great review Bonnie! I totally agree! I read the book, not really expecting to like it that much, but !!! LOVED it! So glad you read it! :)

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  4. Ash, you are one of the reasons I read this. You pushed me over the edge!!

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  5. I am SO, SO, SO glad you ended up giving this a go! And by the sounds of it, so are you :D I was kind of the same at first - wasn't all that interested in reading it. It sounded okay and I thought I'd end up reading it one day, but then everyone was absolutely RAVING about it. Like it was the best thing since sliced bread and so I caved and realised YES, IT IS THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD!

    Heee! Love your review! This was such an amazing book, I want to reread it all over again. Dying to get my hands on Lola. Can she top Anna as fantastic protagonists go? Can Cricket top ETIENNE?! *bites nails in nervousness*

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  6. Brodie: Can LOLA top ANNA? According to The Story Siren, the answer is YES. As soon as I saw her write that on her blog, I died. DIED! A book that's better?

    My biggest hope is that there will be a bigger focus on the romance and them being together, at least a little bit! lol

    Haha, yes, the best thing since sliced bread, perfect!

    I totally went back and re-read a bunch of scenes after the first read-through (well, the next day after I slept and came home from work...).

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  7. LOVED this book too!
    I'm anxiously waiting for Lola and Isla's stories :D

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  8. YAY!!! Totally excited! You don;t have to disown me... I WILL read this one!

    <3

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  9. @Ella: I am so jealous of everyone with LOLA ARCs. I think I will be when ISLA comes around, too!

    @Ash: Yay, for once I won't disown you! Can't wait to hear your thoughts!

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