What I’m Reading: ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins

People said this book was sweet and romantic. They weren’t kidding.

Summary from the inside jacket:

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?

This is the first YA book I have read in a long time where I actually felt like I was back in high school. And that’s really saying something, because this book is set in Paris and I went to school in, um, rural Connecticut. But Stephanie Perkins is so darn good at capturing that ‘Does he like me?…Should I even like him…What the heck is happening here?‘ internal monologue that it was impossible to not relive the emotional roller coaster that is boys and relationship and dating during teenage years. That conundrum is handled so well it’s scary.

Anyway, moving on… You know that thing that writers are always struggling to nail and agents/editors are always clambering to find? Voice? OK, well this book has it. Anna is so clearly defined she practically jumps out of this story and flops down on the couch beside you. I initially picked this book up in Barnes & Noble and started reading. I thought I’d read a page or so. I couldn’t stop. Because Anna is so real. And she was talking to me. And so I left the store with book in hand because I knew I wanted to hear the rest of her story.

The sexual tension in this book between Anna and St. Clair is wonderful. It is sweet and innocent, but so obvious. Eventually you want to just shake them both and say “you like each other…do something about it, already!” But Perkins makes their strung-out relationship very plausible. St. Clair is taken and Anna has another boy on her mind, and then personal and family dramas come into play and complicate things further. Beneath the romantic relationship, though, is a truly wonderful message. About friendship. Friendship with a boy you think you might like, or a long-time friendship with your best girlfriend from home, or blossoming friendships with new acquaintances in a foreign place. Either way, friendship is a bond that often requires forgiveness and honesty to stay strong. And Anna learns this, from numerous people throughout her year in Paris.

In short, this is a real, true, love story. And while I adore that, what I adore even more is that this is a love story built on friendship. So sweet. So wonderful. Just like this book.

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