Saturday, June 29, 2013

Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (10/10)


I read Anna and the French Kiss what seems like years ago and have visited it many times sense. I only just discovered I hadn't done a review yet, which is CRAAZYY! So, here it goes:

     Stephanie Perkins is a literary master that can rival the greats--Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, Jane Austin, all of them! But, actually. Her writing makes me crinkle my toes and causes my cheeks to literally ache from smiling and shouting at the worn pages like my dad shouts at the TV on Superbowl Sunday. All Stephanie's writing, but especially in AATFK, is phenomenal in that it sucks the readers into its plot like a black hole--yes, I realize that black holes don't actually suck, but you get my flow. Stephanie Perkins is worth a blog rave the size of the entirety of the Harry Potter series. In AATFK, Anna is shipped off to boarding school in The City of Love (AKA, PARIS!) by her dad, who writes cheesy, unimpressive books that may or may not exploit the realities of illness. Anna has to move from Altlanta, from her little brother Seany who she shows an immense amount of motherly protection towards, her BFF Bridgett, and her crush, Toph, who works with her at her awesome gig at the movie theater. As one can imagine, it would be pretty tough to leave all that behind, even if school Paris does sound enticing in a way school doesn't anywhere else. But Anna is content with what she has, and especially with her senior year looking so bright, Paris is the absolute last place she wants to be. I don't know what I'd do if my dad told me he was shipping me off to a foreign city for a year. I don't think that would float my boat so much. Anna handles it perfectly, a balance of embracing her future and hanging on to her past. On the first night in her new digs, Anna is trying to muffle her cries in her pillow somewhat unsuccessfully when Meredith, her hall neighbor, helps her out big time with helpful advice and some hot cocoa. While the cocoa is probably far from instant, Anna's friendship with Meredith is just that. Meredith doesn't judge her because she is illiterate when it comes to French and she wears sneakers and she is homesick like nobody's business. Soon after she meets √Čtienne St. Clair, who is most definitely my all-time favorite boy in the whole universe of YA books. He's like that cappuccino you get that is the perfect blend of hot and cold, hard and soft.  √Čtienne is an American with an English accent who speaks fluent French. Did you get that? If you didn't all you need to know is that while he may be short, he is more delicious than any cappuccino. Most people call him St. Clair, which fits; he is the guy that is always smiling, the one that all the boys like and all the girls love. He runs into Anna--literally--on her first night, and from then on she can think of nothing but his soft hair...which sounds creepy, but is surprisingly romantic and adorable. He is dating Ellie, who used to be in the artsy/likable group with St. Clair, Meredith, and Josh and Rashmi, the annoying but cute in a mushy sort of way couple whose lives are composed of bickering and make-out sessions. After she graduated and moved on to bigger, badder things, it seemed like the only trace of her at the lunch table was the resentment in the air from her old besties and the occasional mention from St. Clair. This doesn't help Anna, who is falling head over heels for St. Clair, despite her feelings for Toph back home and the risk of losing him as a friend. She holds out, but when St. Clair's mom becomes ill, Anna is there for him in a way even Ellie isn't. She is there for him emotionally and mentally and most importantly as a true friend, and that's exactly what St. Clair needs. Stephanie Perkins does a fantastic job of introducing tragedy without turning her book into one of Anna's dad's crappy novels. The readers are not overloaded with corny crying scenes, but at the same time we aren't deprived of the raw emotion that St. Clair is experiencing. To make her writing even better, there are other problems in the plot, like Josh skipping school, Ellie, even Anna's mangled feelings about Toph, but not one takes away or distracts from the other, which is wonderful. The big turning point is Thanksgiving, when Anna and St. Clair are the only ones still at school. I won't give anything away, but let me say this--there is a bed involved. I love how Stephanie plays with us, never giving us enough to satisfy us, but allowing us just enough to keep us begging on our knees for more. √Čtienne and Anna have an uneven relationship--holding hands at the movies one day and then ignoring each other completely the next-- but that is what makes AATFK so darn enjoyable. It keeps you on your toes. This is a 100% must read and a 10/10.


     Anna can't wait for her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a good job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she's not too thrilled when her father unexpectedly ships her off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets Etienne St. Clair, the perfect boy. The only problem? He's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her crush back home. Will a year of romantic near-misses end in the French kiss Anna awaits?

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