People love this book. Like loooove this book! And the cover is super cute, so when I spotted Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins at the local library I didn’t hesitate in checking it out.
The story follows Anna Oliphant, a seventeen year old sent to Paris by her father to study abroad at the American highschool. Enter Étienne St Clair, the cute boy with the English accent that every girl in school is swooning over. Is it possible that his attention towards Anna is more than just the characteristic friendliness he shows towards everyone?
Having just come out of my two years abroad in France, a lot of this book really resonated with me. Anna’s nervousness over ordering food in a new language, her fear of standing out as a ridiculous foreigner, her reluctance to let go of people back home. But that’s about where the connection stopped.
Now, I’ve seen people complain about Anna and how upset she is to be sent to France, but actually, her tears didn’t bother me. Yes, she’s in freaking France, but that doesn’t override the fact that it wasn’t her choice. In my opinion her tears were completely warranted and I have no problem with that side of her story. But unfortunately, I just couldn’t connect with her as a character.
Likewise, although I see the appeal of Étienne (he is rather dreamy–although I can’t say that describing his hair as “soft as a baby’s” is much of a turn on), I found him quite flat too. Both he and Anna spend the whole book flirting and leaving hints while doing nothing about going after what they want. Instead they just hurt the people around them and each other while leading the reader on this spiral of sameness. I guess I just couldn’t find the depth in their characters that would raise their situation above cliché highschool drama.
Even the school bully was just that, a cliché school bully without much substance… and I’m pretty sure the book even says that somewhere. At least the author spotted it I guess??
This wasn’t a bad book. There were moments I enjoyed and some of it really was quite romantic. And having them go out to French punk rock shows was a good move on Perkins’ part. But I think I’m just tired of characters who cheat, don’t talk to each other and then jump to false conclusions for the sake of drama.
If you want a light read set in a cool city and a swoony love interest, read Anna and the French Kiss. Just don’t expect too much out of this predictable highschool romance.
3 out of 5 stars