Anna Oliphant is enraged after her father demands that she goes to live and study abroad at the School of America in Paris for her senior year. Anna can’t speak a word of French, misses her best friend Bridget and little brother Sean, and just wants to go home. But then she bumps into Étienne St. Clair. Can this boy (‘French name, English accent, American school. Anna confused’) be just what’s needed to change her mind?
Excuse my cheesy, cliché, and frankly uninspiring synopsis. I doubt there’s a description that will make this not sound like your average teen romance novel, but I assure you it isn’t. Anna and the French Kiss reminded me why I love reading — not so I can talk about it on the internet or add it to my Goodreads shelf — because I love that feeling of becoming completely absorbed in a story, caring deeply about its characters, and never wanting it to end.
Anna and the French Kiss is one of the few books I’ve liked where the romance isn’t part of the story — it IS the story. I adored Étienne St. Clair instantly. I loved that he was a fellow Brit (sort of) and that Stephanie Perkins acknowledged British slang throughout the novel. And I loved that Anna constantly makes fun of him for said British slang. Although we get to find out a lot about Anna outside of her complicated relationship with Étienne — her personality (e.g. her obsession with cleanliness), her attitude towards her friends and family, and what she has a passion for in life — Étienne is constantly at the centre of the story. Even so, we still get to see Anna shine. She’s a fantastic protagonist: feisty and extremely funny (‘Here is everything I know about France: Madeline and Amelie and Moulin Rouge.‘). I enjoyed how believable the relationship was. Anna and Étienne start to fall in love after getting to know each other for months and it’s a beautiful thing to watch.
Anna and the French Kiss is the sort of novel that makes me ‘squee’ and type in unnecessary capitals. It makes me wish I hadn’t waited until the paperback release to read it because now I won’t have two matching hardbacks on my shelves that make me smile every time I look at their pastel spines. I desperately wish Isla and the Happily Ever After was coming out this year instead of next. It’s one of my favourite books of the year so far; compelling and indulgent and has some really wonderful scenes. I’ve already purchased Lola and the Boy Next Door and it’ll be the next book I read. OF COURSE!