18 April 2011

Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

I feel the need to preface this review by saying two things.

First, I know this blog is supposed to be about all those classics and stuff that I didn't read back in high school, but the project itself does not mean I'm going to stop reading other books.  Because frankly, if I were to only read the books on my Required Reading list, I would never read anything.  Ever.  So, for everyone's sakes, I don't want this blog to just be about Jane Eyre and Beowulf whatever other books I didn't read back then.  I want it to be about those books, and other books I'm reading.  Because everyone can benefit from my witty commentary, whether it's about a classic or a young adult romance.

Second, you will probably never find a long, in-depth review complete with plot summary and character analysis and all that jazz on this blog.  I read books for fun.  Analyzing them is not fun for me.  I am happy to share my general feelings and favorite (and least favorite) things about a book, but I am done with high school and thus done with analytical essays.  My reviews are short and to the point.  That's the way I like them, and that will never change.

So, now that I've whined for two paragraphs, on to the the review!

Cover of Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie PerkinsTitle: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publication Date: 2 December 2010
Publisher: Dutton
Source: Library
Summary (courtesy of goodreads.com):

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. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?

I ended up with this book a bit by accident.  I never once read a preview or summary or review, and thus had no idea what it was about beyond it being a young adult romance.  What I did know about it was that a lot of people had given it a lot of good ratings.  So when I saw it on the New Releases shelf at the library, I figured I would pick it up.

The first couple chapters made me want to punch someone in the face.  Not because the writing was bad or the characters were obnoxious or the dialogue was unimaginable (none of these things are true about this book), but because the whole idea was so familiar to me that it seemed ridiculous.  I went to middle school at an American school overseas, and while I don't know everything about all of them (there are plenty all over the world), I feel like the School of America in Paris was an inaccurate portrayal.  My biggest problem was the idea that only Americans can go to American schools, which is so outrageous that it felt like a cop out to not have to write any unfamiliar, non-American characters into the story (other than, obviously, half-American √Čtienne).

That said, once I got over how entirely different Anna's overseas schooling experience was from mine, I was sucked into this book like a tin roof into a tornado.  The plot is all too predictable (literally, nothing that you couldn't see coming from twelve miles away ever happened), but the writing is wonderful, the characters are enjoyable, and the setting is swoon-worthy.  It's heartfelt and hilarious, and I could not put it down.

My overall feelings towards this book are love, love, and more love.  The predictability and (at least in my opinion) inaccuracy are easy overlooked.  It's delicious.
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