Oh, this book. This book. I spent half of it pacing around; another half getting weepy and silly and emotional; another half clutching it to my chest and swooning like a 16-year-old.
Wait — was that three “halves”?
I’m losing my mind. But that’s what Anna and the French Kiss will do to you.
Seventeen-year-old Anna is the daughter of a famous schmaltzy writer who wants to give his daughter the chance to broaden her horizons — at a boarding school in France. Far from her home in Atlanta, Ga., Anna arrives at School of America in Paris without friends or the boyfriend she’s hoped to have by now: Toph, a former coworker at the movie theatre where they both worked.
It’s not long before Anna settles in, though, and begins to get the lay of the land at SOAP — with the help of new buddies, of course. Meredith, Rashmi and Josh welcome her into their circle of artists and athletes, but it’s the group’s wayward member — Etienne St. Clair, friend to all and hot as can be — that really grabs Anna’s attention.
Of course, she’s not interested in St. Clair. He’s sweet, funny and gregarious, plus he has a British accent and amazing hair, but Etienne has something else, too: a girlfriend. And Anna is missing Toph and her best friend stateside, Bridgette, so she has no time to worry about him. Or does she . . .
Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss really is as awesome as everyone claims. Like the colorful macarons Perkins describes, I couldn’t help but devour entire passages of this book whole. It’s funny, entertaining, witty, realistic and oh, so romantic. So romantic. I’m telling you now, I was swooning from here to the Atlantic with this novel clutched to my chest.
Etienne is so my new book crush. (But you’ll always be my first love, Marcus.)
You know when your best friend falls for a guy and talks about him so much that you start to think, “Hey, you know what? You’re right. That dude is awesome.” That’s totally Anna and me, BFFs: in love with the same man. It’s impossible not to fall in love with Etienne St. Clair, so I didn’t even try to stop myself. It would have been like putting out a house fire with a bottle of water. Smokin’.
So yes. This book. This book. I loved Anna and her occasionally clueless self. She felt like a real teen, a real friend — a young woman who was both intelligent and adorable, eager to please her family but struggling under the weight of her parents’ divorce. She was so linked to her little brother, Sean, that it tugged at my heartstrings. And even though she had all sorts of Big Stuff going on, it didn’t bring her down. She just kept moving forward, learning and experiencing as she went.
Anna and St. Clair’s friends were all well-drawn and believable, too. There when you needed them, but with their own difficulties to figure out. Again: realistic. I think that’s what I loved so much about this book: it was like I could have stepped right through the pages and sat with them at lunch. It made me — a 25-year-old — feel like I belonged at SOAP, too.
France came alive under Perkins’ fingertips, and I haven’t wanted to visit this bad since finishing French Milk last year. There is so much to love here — I could go on and on. But rather than encourage you to keep reading a ridiculously long review, just go get Anna and the French Kiss. Perkins has crafted a young adult book that readers of all ages will enjoy, relate to and, like me, want to hug after the final page has closed.
I totally hugged this book.
And I think you will, too.
5 out of 5!