|Title: Anna and The French Kiss||
|Author: Stephanie Perkins|
|Elements: Romance, Boarding school, travel|
|Series: Book 1 in a trilogy featuring different protagonists|
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.What can I say about this book that hasn't been talked about? I loved the learning journey that Anna took to learn more about the culture in Paris. From group trips with St. Clair and the crew to venturing out alone to theaters in the nearby area to check out English movies for review on her movie website, and as she got braver and believed in herself more, further out to other theatres. I loved that Anna was at first infatuated with St. Clair, then had a crush on him, which then grew as they got to know each other. I loved that when Anna got closer to St. Clair, she called him by his first name, but when she got mad, she changed back to his surname, putting some distance within them, even though it was a bit irritating at times. I loved that it was set in Paris. This story would have worked well if it wasn't set in Paris, but being set in Paris enhanced the romance factor.
Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Clair: 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?
There are many things I loved about ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, but there are some things I didn't like. Shocker, right?
This is just a personal bias of mine. There's one point during the climax of the story whereby St Clair makes out with Anna,
"If you ask me to kiss you, I will," he says.
His fingers stroke the inside of my wrists, and I burst into flames.
"Kiss me," I say.
and Meredith catches them. At that moment in the story, St Clair is still attached to his girlfriend, Ellie, and Anna knows this. After they get caught, Anna is all remorseful over what she has done. This is where I began to like Anna, because she's not acting like a prat and realises that she's made a mistake.
But St Clair.
While I understood the reasons why it happened and how it led up to this point, I don't agree with St Clair's decision to make out with Anna while he's attached, and that tarnished my view of him and brought his other faults into perspective. He was a well-rounded character, but this is the first instance where he is actually shown as having a fault. (No, being 3 inches shorter than Anna is not a fault.) I was relieved that he had a fault, and really, if he hadn't done it, I don't think I would believe in St Clair as a character because he would just be too perfect in Anna's eyes.
So, minus points for St Clair, but plus points for Anna because right then she realises (with narrative from the group of friends) that he had led both Anna and Meredith on. Yes, he liked Anna a lot, but he still led Meredith on. While he was still attached with Ellie. I'm glad that you see that he has a fault Anna, and not just me who saw that.
I'm repeating things, but suddenly his faults just seem to pile up and he doesn't seem perfect anymore. Because yes, while Anna and At Clair got their happy ending at that moment, I wonder about the future of their relationship. St Clair cheated on Ellie, he could cheat on Anna.
It frustrated me that Anna did not see this. *rereads the book* Yep, she did not see this. In fact, while her first thought was that Ellie had caught them, her other thoughts were like this:
“Meredith.” I moan. “Ellie.” How could we let this happen? He has a girlfriend, and we both have a friend who is in love with him—the secret that isn’t a secret and never has been.
Etienne jumps to his feet. His shirt is covered with dried grass. And then he’s gone. He races after Meredith, shouting her name. He disappears behind a copse of trees, and Josh and Rashmi are talking, but I don’t comprehend their words.
Did Etienne just leave me? For Meredith?
I can’t swallow. My throat is closing. Not only have I been caught with someone I had no right to be kissing—and not only was it the greatest moment of my life—but he’s rejecting me.
In front of everyone.
Uhhh. I understand how you feel, but still. And then after finding out that St Clair had gone to Ellie's place:
"Ellie. He's choosing Ellie. Again."
Anna guuurrrlll. You're acting like a jealous girlfriend. You. are. not. his. girlfriend. Gosh, these girls and St Clair. What's so great about St Clair, huh? Nah, I'm just saying that, I know he's great, as has been pointed out nonstop by Anna. I still want to whack them three though.
In this aspect, I do believe Perkins has excelled because she has managed to set up a certain mindset for characters, then break that whole view but somehow enhanced and made them all feel human rather than just 3D caricatures of humans. Usually I would just be disgusted with St Clair and Anna's action and chuck the book to one side. But here, I want to analyse every single bit of everyone's relationship in this book.
Furthermore, she has also shown how all their relationships had grown, and how the group's dynamic changed with Ellie's departure and Anna's entrance. Poor Meredith. For Ellie to be out, and Anna to literally replace her. One of my favourite parts would have to be where Anna and St. Clair exchanged daily emails and calls to keep up with one another. Their relationship was growing exponentially, with the previous pages being the slow build up.
After the climax was my favourite part of the story, because we got to see more of Josh and Rashmi. The parallel between Toph, Bridge and Anna's relationship as compared to St Clair, Anna, Meredith and Ellie's relationship was pointed out in the book, but the one between Josh and Rashmi's relationship when compared to what could happen to St Clair and Anna's relationship was subtle.
Both of the relationships focused on passion. While Anna and St Clair's was about the start of the relationship, Josh and Rashmi's were about the end of the relationship, and trying to keep their relationship intact in the face of separation as Josh would be left behind while Rashmi, as well as the others, graduated.
The resolution to that conflict was rushed, a scant 59 pages as compared to the 312 pages it took for Anna and St Clair to get to the next level, and I thought it could take more time to explain rather than vrooming into the happily ever after ending. But that's just me--I love the grovelling-after-conflict aspect of romance. And I also thought that there were loads more things to be explored, like St. Clair and his father's relationship, as well as Ellie and Rashmi's friendship, which had yet to be salvaged.
This was a fantastic debut. It brought romance to the forefront of YA books, and I appreciate that it didn't try to package itself as anything other than a romance. Perkins has skill, and she's not afraid to wield that power. I honestly believe she'll set herself up as the next powerhouse in YA romance.