Written by: Stephanie Perkins
Published by: Dutton
Release date: December 2nd 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Buy: B&N, Amazon
Add on: Goodreads
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?
I was (and still consider myself to be) fairly new to the straight-up contemporary romance genre when I decided to pick up Anna and the French Kiss. I normally stick almost exclusively to speculative fiction (fantasy, dystopian, sci-fi, etc). But I’ve always really enjoyed a good romance in the midst of the paranormal/scifi/fantasy elements, and I’ve always known that I’m a huge fan of believable and well-developed characters. I just used to think I needed the extra elements to make me like the book. But… I think I’m coming to realize that as much as I love those elements, you can take them all away and be left with great characters and a sweet romance, and I’m still a huge fan.
Anna and the French Kiss is exactly the book I needed to confirm that I have avoided this genre for far too long.
Firstly, the entire cast of characters is fantastic. Anna is a strong, relatable young woman who rings completely true as a high-school senior. There was something about her that I immediately connected to. She’s definitely got plenty of issues, especially with how she treats other people, but her growth throughout the book is one thing that I really enjoyed about her. Étienne St. Clair is, unsurprisingly, amazing. He’s probably not the most realistic guy in the world, but he’s one every girl wishes she could meet and fall for. Totally swoon-worthy.
The supporting characters were amazing, as well. I know now that some of them will be coming back in Isla and the Happily Ever After, which is probably why they feel so well-rounded already, but it’s something that I really appreciated all the same.
One thing I wasn’t expecting when I started this book was how long it takes St. Clair and Anna to get together. I hadn’t read many details about the book before jumping in, but that one one thing that surprised me. St. Clair and Anna have great chemistry from the moment they meet, but St. Clair has a girlfriend for the majority of the book. But I think what that allowed for, with St. Clair and Anna, was for them to become incredibly close as friends first, which I really appreciated. As much as they had amazing chemistry, their friendship was the highlight of the book, for me. And that friendship I think is what makes their later romantic relationship (by the end of this book, and actually into Lola and the Boy Next Door) all the better. And though St. Clair does leave his girlfriend for Anna, which might have left me feeling questionably about the way St. Clair handled said previous girlfriend, I thought it was handled well (if not perfectly).
I also loved the fact that Anna, despite being a contemporary romance where, yes, the love story is very important – it also feels like two individual stories, Anna’s and St. Clair’s. They both have to overcome family issues and friendship issues, and there are some really emotional story-arc’s for both of them. I appreciated that they were forced to get their own lives in order and take responsibility for their own happiness, before they finally ended up together in the end. It added more depth to their characters and stories, and I loved that.
Anna and the French Kiss is definitely a book that fans of contemporary romance should check out (or maybe I’m the last one standing? Everyone has already read this, haven’t they? lol). But even if this genre isn’t normally your thing, I would highly recommend giving this a try anyway if you’re ever looking for a sweet, lighter story. The characters are great, the writing is engaging and often funny… It’s just a good book, which I think would appeal to many readers.