ABOUT THE BOOK
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
young adult contemporary romance published by Dutton on December 2nd, 2010
first book in Anna and the French Kiss companion series
Anna can’t wait for her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a good job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she’s not too thrilled when her father unexpectedly ships her off to boarding school in Paris – until she meets Étienne St. Clair, the perfect boy. The only problem? He’s taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her crush back home. Will a year of romantic near-misses end in the French kiss Anna awaits?
When it comes to books, I never let the hype get to me and it works because then I don’t have to deal with the extra pressure of it. However, the constant gushing gets to me which is why I sometimes find myself in the let’s-get-blown-away-by-this-book state. It doesn’t always turn out well for me. As I work my way towards books I must read, I’m ready to absolutely fall in love with them which is why the crushing disappointment after reading Anna and the French Kiss is still err, crushing me.
Before reading Anna and the French Kiss, I haven’t come across a single person who hasn’t loved it so I wasn’t worried at all. I had planned to read the all of Stephanie Perkins books in the series because I knew Isla and the Happily Ever After was releasing. It was about damn time I read a Perkins book. I picked it up one night and started reading it, reading it, and finished it within a day. This is a big deal since the book is 400 pages long and so much happens in it.
I liked Anna right away. Despite being highly annoyed at her father for sending her all the way to Paris to graduate high school, Anna manages to be her quirky and amusing self. She’s welcomed into Meredith’s group of friends and develops a crush on the first English boy she sets her eyes on (re: Étienne St. Clair). Étienne is not one would expect; he’s hilarious and oh-so-fun to be with but trapped in a relationship for far too long to want to end it. I really liked him when he offered to show Anna the ins and outs of Paris and man, I was blown away by how Perkins described Paris. Wanderlust alert.
Everything was going perfectly up until something happens which leaves Étienne extremely depressed. This is the time when Anna and Étienne’s friendship really takes off and into the BFF territory. I loved how they came to rely on each other so much when their lives start overspilling with problems. However, it’s clear that they both like each other too much to just remain BFFs and this is where it all goes downhill.
Just as Étienne comes out of his depressed state and Anna comes to terms with things back at home, he and Anna do something that I was dreading in the back of my mind. And so starts the cycle of St. Clair-Étienne-St. Clair-Étienne and I just wanted to really stab myself in the eye. Anna wants Étienne to break up with her girlfriend, Ellie, because of which Anna does some really stupid things. And it’s just not Anna, it’s Étienne as well. He’s just as bad as Anna that I was rolling my eyes over their needless angst, immaturity, and stupid actions. I like the mess and drama in books but this was too much, even for me.
Nevertheless, I liked how Perkins handled the group friendship among Anna, Étienne, Meredith, Rashmi, and Josh. What I didn’t like was how Meredith was put on the backburner when Anna and Étienne hit it off. Still, it takes a while for Anna and Rashmi to really become friends which I thought Perkins handled pretty well. But one thing I found really odd was that it’s Anna’s passion to be a film critic and she isn’t aware that Paris is the perfect place to hone that passion into a profession? But when she discovers hundreds of theaters in Paris, she’s does gets pretty involved in it by watching any and every kind of movie.
Yet for all the good that’s in Anna and the French Kiss, the bad is way worse and the double standards pretty much did it for me. I just can’t bring myself to want to read either Lola and the Boy Next Door or Isla and the Happily Ever After. By now I know that people have either loved both more or hated them just as well. I guess I’m not willing to find out any soon which just saddens me more than anything else because I really wanted to love the books.
‘How many times can our emotions be tied to someone else’s – be pulled and stretched and twisted – before they snap? Before they can never be mended again?’
‘The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.’
Heather Shaw says
That is kind of disappointing, but thanks for sharing!!
Christina Reads YA says
Lol I love the quote you chose to sum up your review.
Hype is a mean monster when it comes to book recommendations. I try to stay away from it too. I'm afraid that your experience with Anna, for instance, will be mine with the 5th Wave among other titles.
"Before reading Anna and the French Kiss, I haven't come across a single person who hasn't loved it" — really? I thought there was a whole crowd that was very anti-Anna books (like rich white people with white people problems). In fact I know someone who resolutely refuses to read the books because she doesn't think they're for her (because of that problem).
"Despite being highly annoyed at her father for sending her all the way to Paris to graduate high school, Anna manages to be her quirky and amusing self." — true. The thing I like most about Stephanie Perkins's writing is how clearly her character voices come out. Anna's humor is very palpable.
"man, I was blown away by how Perkins described Paris. Wanderlust alert." — You're the second person who's said this to me and I don't feel like I was as impacted by the settings but now want to reread the books to see if I just missed things :O :O.
I actually pretty much agree with your spoiler and the drama. I dunno, I guess I'm more lenient towards that stuff cause high school and romantic stuff as a teen gets so dramatic. Not particularly fun to read about but eh.
"one thing I found really odd was that it's Anna's passion to be a film critic and she isn't aware that Paris is the perfect place to hone that passion into a profession?" — I've seen that pointed out in the same reviews by the people who say rich white person thing.
"I guess I'm not willing to find out any soon which just saddens me more than anything else because I really wanted to love the books." 🙁 🙁 🙁 I hope you'll find a book to restore you from your experience.
Awww, it sucks, but you're not alone in letting the gushing of a book get to you! I know for sure it has happened to me once or twice when everyone gushes about a certain book and then you get all excited to read it and… well it ain't all that, or you just aren't feeling it at the time and you're left so disappointed. So I'm sorry this has happened to you, but on the other hand your complaints seem pretty legit and it seems like you would have had the same problems even if you had gone into the book blind.
I will say, if these things bothered you about Anna, then I definitely wouldn't go ahead with Lola because I know the double standards are even worse in that one. I haven't gotten a chance to read Isla yet so I don't know if the same could be said about that one, but it could be it's clear of anything like that and you could read that one alone and still get to experience Stephanie Perkins' charming dialogue.
I'm glad I'm not alone! I mean, I know there are people out there who didn't like it, but among my friends I felt like the black sheep a bit! I liked it enough – I gave it 3 stars – and I will be continuing the series (if just for Josh in Isla <3) but my sticking point was definitely the circling in the second half. Like Christina, I can deal with a bit of melodrama because teenagers are a bit melodramatic, but I feel like with Anna, it was drama for drama's sake; it all got too repetitive, like rehashing the drama was the only way she could think of to amp up the stakes.
You know how I feel about this book! We talked about it on Twitter and ugh. I couldn't deal with most of the things that happened here.
Cassie G says
I really liked it, but I also had a few issues with it. I liked Lola SO MUCH MORE and literally was crying over how much I loved Isla. Those books are worth it to give it a shot.
Cassie @ Happy Book Lovers