Publisher: Dutton Books
Where did you get this book: Purchased
Release date: Out now
Blurb from author’s official website:
Anna was 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. So she’s less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend.
But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt.
Anna and the French Kiss somehow ended up being my top favourite read for 2010. It’s not a book that I was expecting to love and become my favourite read of last year. It’s by a debut author, and one that was unknown to me.
This book snuck up on me quietly. I’d heard buzz about it on twitter, but nothing extra special. And I’ve learnt my lesson regarding much hyped up books due to the fact I’d been burned a couple of time, because the hype never lived up to expectations. But after reading the blurb and some reviews, my book tingly senses came into power. I did something that I rarely do.
I don’t buy YA novels in hardcover price because I strongly disagree with putting up prices for titles that are aimed for teenagers and younger.
But I did it anyway.
I broke my rule and bought a YA book in hardcover.
Plus it was geographically restricted as an ebook. *shakes fist*
But in this instance, it was oh so worth it. Anna and the French Kiss is the most wonderful YA contemporary romance. Anna Oliphant, our 17 year old American heroine, is sent away to the prestigious French boarding school in Paris called the School of America in Paris. Anna is sent there by her father who gives her no choice in the matter. Anna is a very humorous narrator, and a very likeable one. She doesn’t harbour any disbelief about her dad.
Here’s a quote from the book about her father:
My father isn’t cultured. But he is rich.
It wasn’t always like this. When my parents were still married, we were strictly lower middle class. It was around the time of the divorce that all traces of decency vanished, and his dream of being the next great Southern writer was replaced by his desire to be the next published writer. So he started writing these novels set in Small Town Georgia about folks with Good American Values who Fall in Love and then contract Life-Threatening Diseases and Die.
And it totally depresses me, but the ladies eat it up. They love my father’s books and they love his cable-knit sweaters and they love his bleachy smile and orangey tan. And they have turned him into a bestseller and a total dick.
When Anna’s mother and dick of a father leave her in her new dorm room, she does what I imagine I would do if I was left alone in a foreign country with no friends or family at age 17. She bawls her eyes out. But she doesn’t bawl her eyes out for long. She meets a fellow student called Meredith who lives in the same hallway, and who befriends Anna over a cup of Chocolate Chaud. And it’s through Meredith that Anna meets and becomes friends with the oh so wonderful Etienne St Clair who is also a student at SOAP (School of America Paris).
AATFK (I’m breaking it down as it’s a mouthful to write) isn’t just your average YA romance story. It’s a fantastic story that features a heroine that charms you with her sense of humour, her wit, and her vulnerability. Her budding relationship with Etienne is fraught with wonderful moments of friendship, but also moments of sadness and anger on Anna’s part due to Etienne having a girlfriend. There is no cheating in this book, but there is a relationship going on between them of friendship and that tension of attraction.
There’s a scene where they’re sitting next to each other in the cinema, and you could cut the tension between them with a knife.
“It’s odd, but I keep finding myself distracted. By the white of his teeth through the darkness. By the wavy bit of hair that sticks out to the side. By the soft aroma of his laundry detergent. He nudges me to silently offer the armchair, but I decline and he takes it. His arm is close to mine, slightly elevated. I glance at his hands. Mine are so tiny compared to his large, knuckle boy hands.
And, suddenly, I want to touch him.
St Clair coughs and shifts again. His leg brushes against mine. It stays there. I’m paralyzed. I should move it; it feels too unnatural. How can he not notice his leg touching my leg? From the corner of my eye, I see the profile of his chin and nose—oh, dear God—the curve oh his lips.
There. He glanced at me. I know he did.
St Clair stiffens, but doesn’t move his leg. Is he holding his breath? I think he is. I’m holding mine. I exhale and cringe—it’s so load and unnatural.
Again. Another glance. This time I turn, automatically, just as he’s turning away. It’s a dance, and now there’s a feeling in the air like one of us should day something. Focus, Anna. Focus. “Do you like it?” I whisper.
He pauses. “The film?”
I’m thankful the shadows hide my blush.
“I like it very much,” he says.
I risk a glance, and St Clair stares back. Deeply. He has not looked at me like this before. I turn away first, then feel him turn a few beats later.
I know he is smiling, and my heart races.”
Anna is a heroine who respects the fact that he has a girlfriend, but she doesn’t like it. As her feelings for him becomes stronger, she finds the situation harder to deal with, but she doesn’t give up on her friendship with Etienne. Etienne himself is a great counterpart to Anna. And he’s not your atypical YA hero. He’s short, he has bottom crooked teeth, and he’s a breath of fresh air. His friendship with Anna means a lot to him, but he’s unsure of himself and his relationship with his girlfriend, so he sometimes blows hot and cold. But their friendship remains and goes deeper when tragedy strikes in Etienne’s family life, and it’s there where Anna shines. She supports him, she picks him up when he’s at rock bottom, and she doesn’t give up. The bonds of friendship between them go deeper, and it’s at that stage where you think, something soon has to give. But Stephanie Perkins rackets up the tension between them even higher, and I knew it wouldn’t be long before that tension explodes.
And when it all comes apart, it was full of teenager emotions, but it wasn’t over the top in a emo or wangsting way. And when they do finally come together, it was just lovely. It really was.
I also want to mention the setting. Paris is just not a backdrop to the book. Stephanie Perkins has infused the character that is Paris into the story. You don’t ever forget that you’re in Paris whilst reading AATFK, and I think it’s a very integral part to the story as it’s where Etienne and Anna bond over landmark places.
There is nothing that I dislike about this book. Nothing. I was only disappointed when I realised I came to the last page.
Anna and the French Kiss is a fresh of breath air. It’s a wonderful contemporary romance that features a heroine that I think everyone will love. I dare people to not like this book :D. I’m counting down the months until Perkin’s next release, and I do believe that I do have a new auto buy author on my list.
I give AATK a much deserved A+