Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

For some reason, I felt the need to tell you guys that I was telling one of my guy friends that I was reading a book, and he asked for the title. When I told him the title of this book, I knew that his reaction would be along the lines of “…..O.o what?” and so I explained with this exact sentence: “It’s contemporary, hence the odd name.” Yes, that was how I decided to get out of the situation of explaining why it was actually titled Anna and the French Kiss. 
I don’t know why I shared that. I guess I thought that you might be amused. Or wonder why I felt like I needed to explain the title and why I was reading a book with such a name. And…well, I really don’t know.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Publication Date: January 1, 2010
 

Synopsis:
Anna was planning on enjoying her senior year with her best friend and her crush, but when her father decides to send her to Paris, France instead, she can’t even begin to understand why.

She doesn’t speak a word of French, but slowly becomes friends with several people in her school, including the charming and handsome Étienne St. Clair, the boy who lives above her. But Étienne is in a relationship, and Anna has a crush back in America.
However, that doesn’t stop a great friendship from blooming between Étienne and Anna. Only, is it really just a friendship?
Rating: 4.5 stars

Thoughts:
This had been hyped up so much in the BookTube and reading community, especially as the series is known for being one of the most popular YA contemporary series out there. I’m not really sure if it’s really a series, since there are three companion novels, but for the sake of continuity, I’m calling it a series.

I didn’t really know much about the book when I first went into it. Or at least, I tried to keep from knowing too much. I got spoiled about something, but I wasn’t really upset about it, because I thought it was a valid thing for the reviewer to bring up. Other than that, I think I got spoiled for one more thing, but I can’t remember what it was.

Okay, so I didn’t read the synopsis when I first heard about the book, and I wanted to go into it knowing as little as possible. Then I was “spoiled” about the fact that St. Clair has a girlfriend when the book begins, which isn’t actually a spoiler if I had read the synopsis in the first place. So when I heard about that, I immediately wondered, “Then why does Anna have a thing for him if he’s already in a relationship? Are her feelings immediately mutual? Is there cheating involved in the book?” 

The fact is, that yes, there is an amount of cheating in the book. That was probably my biggest issue with the book, the fact that St. Clair was in a relationship (which is common knowledge in the book) and yet he kept acting like everything was okay and that he and Anna could hang out in an obvious more-than-friends way, without it being a problem. No matter what, I believe that if two people are unhappy in a relationship, they shouldn’t stay together for the sake of having someone. If they’re unhappy, they should just leave. There’s no point in torturing themselves and each other and then putting themselves in a situation where they would be tempted or prone to cheating.

And the thing is, Anna was upset about St. Clair being in a relationship because she liked him. Okay, fair enough. It’s hard to see your crush be in a relationship with someone else, I get that. But it’s really not okay to start hating your crush’s significant other to the point where you become so angry and yell at your crush for being in a relationship with someone else. I will admit that Anna had some good points, one being that St. Clair was flirting with her and obviously had intentions that were romantic, but the fact that Anna became so jealous and petty about it really annoyed me.

Both Anna and St. Clair had fault when it came down to their situation, and while I can see it being realistic, I do think that the whole premise of that was played off in a way that almost justified both their actions. I would often be reading the book and liking Anna and St. Clair’s relationship, until it was brought up that he had a girlfriend and I’d think “Oh right, yeah I completely forgot about that because he definitely isn’t acting like he’s in a relationship.”

That was really the only problem I had with the book, which I why I deducted .5 from my rating. Other than that, I really enjoyed the whole thing. I thought that the plot was enjoyable and for the most part, I did like the characters. I was actually hoping to see if there would be any visible ties between this and Lola and the Boy Next Door, seeing as they’re companion books, but I actually didn’t find any. Maybe they’re just connected in a way that will be explained in Lola and the Boy Next Door.

I like the French culture that was integrated with the book, though admittedly, I don’t know much about France or its culture. But I did like that everything was explained in a way that didn’t make the reader feel belittled for not knowing the culture, and at the same time, was both informative and entertaining.

I also really liked how film was incorporated. It was interesting to see how Stephanie Perkins would tie in a movie to the plot and the current situation of the characters, and how film ended up playing a big part in the overall story.

I wished that there was a little more focus on the friendship aspect of the book, and maybe a little less on the romance, though I did like it apart from what I said earlier. I would have liked to see Anna’s friendships play a bigger role in her life, instead of just being more of a supporting role in the story.

There was a point while I was reading the book when I realized that the way St. Clair and Anna interacted felt really familiar to me. It wasn’t until I read a specific part of the book that I realized why. Their relationship reminded me of one of my own friendships, exempting the romantic stuff. Everything felt familiar because it was the same way I would banter with one of my guy friends. There would be lots of sarcasm, playful teasing, picking on each other, and some awkward moments. And I liked that it felt familiar. I mean, my friend and I don’t have anything romantic going on, but it was nice to see that there was a fictional relationship that kind of resembled ours. In fact, I sent him a picture of the snippet in the book that reminded me of our friendship, and even he agreed that it was kind of nostalgic to see something like that.

The ending was satisfying, though I thought that it was a bit rushed. I think it could have had one more chapter to it, but I’m really happy with how things turned out.

Characters:
I did like Anna, though at times I found her to be a little bit annoying. Especially when it came to St. Clair and his girlfriend. She had good reason to be upset, but I found her to be slightly unreasonable sometimes. But other than that, I really liked her as a character. I thought that she was adventurous and fun, likable and smart. I also admired her ability to keep up with St. Clair’s sarcasm.

St. Clair…okay, I have a confession to make about him. I umm…couldn’t actually picture him speaking with a British accent. Yeah, I kept thinking of his accent as American, which is both understandable and stupid. Somehow, whenever I tried to real his dialogue with a British accent, my mind would only be able to come up with an Aussie or Kiwi accent, which is actually kind of embarrassing. And yeah, I did like him. Though, I did think he was a little bit short for my liking. I mean, I’m not tall either, but his height kind of made me think that I could probably never date a guy as tall as him. But I have to give him props for being confident with his height and still managing to make himself seem taller than he is.
Overall:
4.5 stars, and yes, I would highly recommend that you pick this up. I liked it a lot, and I think most people would too. It’s a light, fluffy, humorous contemporary, which makes it perfect for pulling you out of a reading slump or picking you back up after reading a sad book.

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