by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #1
Published on December 2, 2010 (original) by Speak
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Can Anna find love in the City of Light?
Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her coworker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection. So she's less than thrilled when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year.
But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new people, including the handsome Étienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he's taken —and Anna might be, too. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she's waiting for?
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I’ve had Anna and the French Kiss on my shelf for years but never bothered to pick it up until I borrowed the audiobook from my local library. And I think if I had tried to read this book in print, I wouldn’t have finished it.
Overall, I don’t think this is a bad book, necessarily. Personally, I struggle with contemporaries in general and being able to listen to this one while doing other things is what got me through it. That, and the book text lends itself well to an audiobook. But I found that post-read, I had some issues with certain content that I might not even have picked up on if I had read the book when it released.
Before I dive into that, I want to say that I ultimately enjoyed this book despite some of the less-than-positive aspects. Anna and the French Kiss has a light, bubbly style of writing that was fun to listen to and goes by quickly. I definitely felt like I was in Anna’s head the entire time, or watching as she narrated her adventures in a cute movie. I wanted to know what happened to Anna at each turn, I rooted for her. And the idea of traveling to a different country, being immersed in the culture, is fascinating to me as I never had that opportunity so I must live vicariously through fictional characters.
Where it went downhill was after I distanced myself from the book. If I had written this review right after I finished, things would be very different.
Throughout the book, there’s the budding relationship between Anna and St. Clair. The latter has a girlfriend at the beginning and the idea of cheating runs rampant. Not only that, it’s portrayed as “okay,” as forgivable, and I really didn’t like the message that sends. St. Clair is kind of an ass. He can’t make up his mind of who he wants to be with and ends up messing with both Anna and his girlfriend Ellie. His whole loneliness complex made me hate him by the end. He was needy and didn’t handle it well, but it doesn’t matter because there needed to be a happily ever after.
Seriously, why would ANYONE want to date this guy? He strings people along and honestly his only redeeming factor seemed to be his accent??? I wasn’t a fan.
But Anna wasn’t a ball of sunshine either. She purposely flirted with another guy who asked her out before and she declined to upset St. Clair. Because that’s healthy. After that, I was a little put off by her character too.
And yet. . . okay so this book is written for teens, right? Young adult and all. And everything that happened in the book that I thought was questionable or toxic behavior, I saw in high school. Sure, different setting and all but the same behaviors. Does that make it okay? No, but I could certainly relate and it’s why I struggled a bit with this one. The writing made it a fun read (especially to listen to) and my initial response was yes, this is a good book. It was only after a lot of reflection that I realized it wasn’t necessarily so great.
Take from that what you will. I had trouble with this one, both talking about it and working through my thoughts on my own.