Author: Stephanie Perkins
Release date: Hardback December 2010
Genre: Contemporary YA / Romance
Target audience: 12+
US Publisher: Dutton, Penguin
Anna and the French Kiss is a charming romance. It’s utterly lovely and beautifully written.
Anna is spending her senior year in France against her will. Her father sends her from Atlanta to the School of America in Paris to broaden her horizons. He expects that it will help her grow. But Anna doesn’t want to leave her best friend, her family and her potential boyfriend behind. There is no reasoning with her father and so Anna finds herself in Europe feeling more than a little lost. Unpacking in her new room, she is befriended by Meredith and is invited to breakfast with her the next morning. There, among Meredith’s friends, she meets Etienne St. Clair. A short, beautiful boy with great hair and a teasing humour.
The story is their love story. From the moment Anna meets Etienne, she cannot stop thinking about him. But as with any great novel, there are obstacles which separate them. There are the physical obstacles such as the fact that Etienne has a girlfriend and the internal obstacles, those that Anna creates from her own insecurities and inability to communicate.
Aside from the love story – this is full of charm, is heart-warming and is wonderful. Anna and the French Kiss is also a story about courage in an unfamiliar culture. It’s about barriers to communication and the fear of the unknown. I watched a film called Sugar this week which has a similar theme. The main character wants to be a baseball player and he’s at a training camp for Kansas City in his home country of the Dominican Republic. When he signs for an American team, he leaves his culture behind and tries to integrate without being a fluent speaker of English. If you’re interested in the struggle to fit into another culture, the film does a fantastic job of communicating it. That is not to say that this novel does not, it most certainly does. But if you enjoyed this novel, you might want to see that too!
This book felt in part like an awakening. I’ve been to Paris once and I can’t say it was the best experience. But Anna’s journey made me want to revisit the city as a braver more educated person. It really made me want to read more translated fiction too. As an exercise in seeing how open I am to new cultures, I’ve looked back on the origin of the books I’ve read this year using Goodreads. Here are the results:
- 1 German novel
- 7 Australian novels
- 8 British novels
- 17 American novels
This speaks for itself. I love American things. I love that they have Thanksgiving and Independence Day. I also love Australian things – Home and Away for instance! But if I explored other cultures through more books and movies maybe I’d love things about them too.
Any book that makes you want to be a better person – be it reading more widely or visiting a new place or being more of a risk taker – is a book worth reading. When you add to that the wonderful characterisation and effortless storytelling, well, you can be in no doubt: the book is a winner.
Anna and the French Kiss is magnifique!
Recommended for fans of:
- The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
- Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Source: Gift from my family