Thursday, April 11, 2013

Anna And The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - Book Review

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. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets √Čtienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, √Čtienne 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?


. . . .


“I mean, who needs Christopher any other guy ever when Etienne St. Clair is in the world?”

This was my second reading of Anna And The French Kiss, and I still finished it in two days.  I’d be hard-pressed to find a book that calls for more serious page-turning than this one, and since this is a review, I’m going to gush and fangirl over St. Clair very professionally and composedly tell you the reasons why.

Though, my composure and lack of fangirling could get lengthy.  And gushy.  So…there’s that.  You have been warned.

Stephanie Perkins has harnessed the most addictive aspects of chick-lit and infused them into her debut novel.  Distinct though relatable main character?  Check.  Setting that is made for falling in love and romantic nights?  Well, duh, it’s Paris.  So check.  Side-characters that are realistic and funny?  Check.  Romance that keeps you on the edge of your seat with its slow, simmering build-up and swoon-worthy boy?

Check check check check check.  Check. 

I could list the non-romantic aspects of this book to seem more stoic, Serious Review Person, but who would I be kidding?  This novel could be called Ode To St. Clair, because that EnglishAmericanFrench boy with the perfectly messy hair makes this book.

What I love most about St. Clair is that not once does Perkins try to make him out to be perfect.  He’s got real, sometimes in-your-face flaws, which adds this whole new layer of realism to him that most authors completely forget about.  His flaws actually make his numerous swoony characteristics stand out so much more.  And ohhhh boy, does Etienne St. Clair have some swoony characteristics!  He’s funny, gorgeous, down-to-earth, and caring.  While you can say that for practically every YA heart-throb, very few seem as authentic as St. Clair.  Which is a huge testament to Stephanie Perkins’ writing abilities.

The interactions between Anna and St. Clair are some of the most Awww!-inspiring scenes you’ll ever read in a novel.  They are so cute together, even when they’re not together.  (See, Etienne has this thing that kind of gets in the way of their obvious chemistry; a girlfriend.)  The dialogue is funny and adorable, and their arguments are strained with unspoken feelings.  The build-up between them, as I already said, crawls even as it simmers.  So many times during this novel, I wanted them to just shut up and start tearing each other’s clothes off, because obviously that’s what they both wanted to do.  Instead, they’d look at each other, she’d remember he has a girlfriend and he’d remember she’s not said girlfriend, and the scene’s build-up would fizzle out on a wave of realistic awkwardness.

But boy, do those fizzle-out scenes make the final crescendo explode like fireworks on the 4th of July.  To call the end of Anna And The French Kiss satisfying would be doing it an injustice.

While reading this book, there were a few specific chapters I wanted to work into my review.  But I got too caught up not fangirling and not gushing about St. Clair that I overlooked them, so I’m going to get my laziness on and just tack them on at the end here.  Because why not.

There is an entire chapter that is told through emails between Anna and St. Clair.  This was one of the most unapologetically adorable chapters I’ve ever read.  Ever.  My face was split in half by my crazy-person grin for that whole chapter.

A few weeks before the emails that turned me nutso, Anna and St. Clair get to spend a few days alone while their friends and his girlfriend are back home for a holiday.  This is the point-of-no-return chapter in terms of their undeniable chemistry.  This is also the point of no return for your resolution to ignore your bed time, because this is when your mind is clouded by a haze of Etienne that won’t part until you finish the novel.  So my suggestion would be to read this when you don’t have to be up early for work or school the next morning, because you will be waking up with a Good Book hangover.  You know, when you read until dawn, lay down for an hour or two, then want to murder your alarm clock when it so inconsiderately tries to take you out of your book-high and thrust you back into the real world.

I know a lot of you have put off reading this book because of the cheesy cover and title – I was one of you before my friend Pixie talked my ear off about the book (thank you, Pixie) – but don’t let that deprive you of this reading experience.  It’s not profound, it won’t change your way of thinking, but it will remind you of why you fell in love with reading in the first place.

It is just So. Much. Fun.

Anna And The French Kiss - 5 out of 5 stars

25 comments:

  1. Your reviews are so much fun. You're right, based off that cheesy title and cover I would probably never read this (and also because it's focused on romance, eh). But after reading your review I must say I'm slightly interested. I want to be able to find out on my own if you're just crazy or if it's actually a good book ;)

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    1. Can't it be both?

      Thanks so much, Asti! This book is in-your-face total romance, but of the highest quality. So if you do decide to give in and read it, I'll be curious to see what you think!

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  2. Oh my gawd... I need to read this!!!! Everyone seems to love it and I feel like I'm the last person who hasn't read it yet. lol Great review!

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    1. You and Asti, yup. Last two people. Not really, but y'know. If that'll help prompt you to pick it up, we can say that! This book is soooo good.

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  3. And Trish makes three. But not for long, I'm leaving this feet-dragging, procrastinating gang and will be reading it very, very soon! Great review, love emails in books so can't wait for that chapter.

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  4. If you don't like it, I'll have to slap you. And if you do like it and try to steal Etienne from me, I'll have to slap you. So you have to love it, but not enough to pull another Akiva-grab on me.

    I can't wait till you start it, Trish!

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  5. Someday I will sacrifice my masculinity on the altar of peer pressure and read this.

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    1. And your balls! You'll be sacrificing your balls, too. But you know what? It might be worth it.

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    2. Um... in that case, it depends on how the sacrificial offering are obtained. By blade, band, or other dark art?

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    3. More like they'll shrivel up throughout your reading and just fall off after the last page. Voila! Instant woman.

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    4. Wow, my human anatomy is off then! I always figured there was a little bit more distinction between man and woman. You know, things like ovaries and boobs. And penises(peni?).

      It'd be quite terrible if I read only half the book then.

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  6. I love this book! It is truly one of those rare, perfectly written romances. It's my go-to book when I need a little joy-infusion. Great review!

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  7. I completely agree! Stephanie Perkins is amazing. Thanks so much, Natalie!

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  8. I think I am probably the only person left in the world who hasn't read this book...YET lol

    Fun review as always Kelly! :)

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    1. It's sooooo good, I really, really think you'll love it! It's one of those books you need to push right to the top of your TBR pile and experience.

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    2. *Mumbles about peer pressure* Guess what's now in my Kindle... :P

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    3. HA! You'll be thanking me soon enough. }:)

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  9. OMG RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT?

    I was telling my other friend yesterday, ANNA IS SO PERFECT! Etienne and Anna are the most perfect couple ever and their romance is just so real and true and compelling and I was crying all through it because it was just so BEAUTIFUL. I agree, Etienne is just so real! He's not overly perfect or glossed over like most YA love interests, but he has all of these chinks in his armor that Anna loves about him and I can't EVEN.

    I NEED TO CRY.

    *runs off*

    *comes back to compliment your review* I LOVED IT! It hit the nail right on the head for me :)

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    1. Aww, thanks Eileen! I love your enthusiasm! This book totally deserves every single fangirl reaction it has evoked. It is swoon in a book.

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  10. You're welcome. :P

    <3
    Pixie

    (P.S. As always I love your reviews. Especially when we can sit and gush over how incredibly ah-mazing Etienne is.)

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    1. Aww, thanks Pixieboo! My reviews are mostly a result of your prompting to finally start a book blog, so thanks for that too.

      <3

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  11. Ha, what a fun review! :) And you can't NOT include gushing in your review, obviously, because OH MY. This book. It is, hands down, my favorite romance ever. And though I didn't like Lola as much as Anna, I LOVED that there was even more of Anna and St. Clair in there. :) Man, those characters. They are just adorable. *plans a re-read*

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    1. I know! I like to consider myself a more critical reviewer, but there are a few books that turn me into a giggling fangirl. Anna And The French kiss is definitely one of them. I know there will be a 3rd read, and probably a 4th, 5th, and 6th. It is just so cute and satisfying!

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  12. Romance is really not my thing and you might even kill me for saying that I have only read one romantic novel to date. Sorry!
    BUT....
    You have gotten me curious about this boy. :)

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    1. Haha nothing wrong with that. I'm a sucker for a good romance, but it's getting harder and harder to find the really good ones.

      If you do give Etienne a try, I don't think you'll regret it!

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As you may or may not know, life is eating up way too much of my spare time right now, so pretty please don't hate me if it takes me a few days to get back to your wonderful comments. I read each and every one from my phone, and they always make my day. <3