Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Rating: 3.5 stars
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "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 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?"
Review: If you follow me on Instagram you know that I've been prejudiced against this book for a very long time, based solely on this book's title. I mean, seriously, before I knew anything about this story, I knew that a girl named Anna was going to get a french kiss in the end. And, not that I have anything against kissing, but when getting a kiss is an entire story's plot, well, I'm just not all that interested. Not my cup of tea, I'm afraid.
Then The Internet came along and was all gushy and fangirly and arm-flailingly-excited about this book. I took note of the enthusiasm, but it wasn't quite enough to push me over the edge. But, rather than ignore the book completely as I had previously done, I more glared at it suspiciously from one corner the library over the rim of my chocolately chip frappuccino.
Then I got into a bit of a book slump. I hadn't read any "bad books," per say, just a lot of not-quite-great ones, and I really wanted my next one to knock it out of the park. My Rainbow Rowell hold hadn't come through, and the internet-arm-flailing over this one seemed so sincere... so I swallowed my pride, glanced around to make sure no one was looking, and hurriedly checked this one out from the library, immediately shoving it into the bottom of my bag under spare post-its and old bits of granola bar, lest the library patrons see what I had finally succumbed to read.
Now that I've read it... I think I maybe should have trusted my gut. Unfortunately, this book didn't make me fall in love like I was hoping. However, there are plenty of things done well in this novel, and I can understand the hype. It just wasn't a great fit for me.
Here's some of the good: I thought the characters all felt real and distinct, and I appreciated how fully fleshed out they were. (With the exception of Amanda, who seemed like a very stereotypical mean girl. But, to have only one character in the entire cast seem like a stereotype, that's really not bad at all.) This story was cute, there's no denying it. Anna and Etienne are a cute couple with a cute love story. The backdrop of Paris was tres fantastique. Reading this will make you want to eat a baguette and walk around a park (preferably one with fountains) while holding brightly-colored balloons.
It's light and it's happy. It's just not much else.
The characters and the backdrop were solidly there, but there just didn't seem like much else was going on. The entire focus was, as I predicted, on Anna and Etienne's will-they-or-won't-they relationship. Maybe if I liked love stories for the sake of love stories I would have liked this one more. In the end, I felt the same kind of happiness I feel when I try on a new hat: faintly pleased and quickly distracted, since I don't actually wear hats very often. They bug my forehead.
Bottom Line: If you like romance, then read this book while eating Nutella! It's a cute love story with an excellent Parisian backdrop, but not much else.