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Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

A n n a  a n d  t h e  F r e n c h  K i s s by Stephanie Perkins
Release Date: 12/2/10 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Dutton
Upcoming: Lola and the Boy Next Door
& Isla and the Happily Ever After
Age Group: Young Adult (14+)
Pages: 372
Source: Own/got it for Christmas
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kindle
Word Blurb: Utterly and completely FANTASTIC!
"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. 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?" Goodreads»»

I'm in love with this book, like I haven't fallen in love with a book in a long time. The last time I can honestly say that I enjoyed a book THIS much was with Jandy Nelson's The Sky is Everywhere, aka my all time favorite young adult novel ever. And that's saying something. I've been kicking myself in the ass ever since I finished it for a) holding off on reading this one due to skepticism which was derived from reading mixed reviews and for b) holding off on reading it!

Gosh, it has everything! Intense romance...hilarious bits...awesome, comical characters... and it's in FREAKIN' PARIS for crying out loud! Paris! As in the French city, or the famous city in France. However you slice it, this novel is - again, I say this - in PARIS, FRANCE! I've always wanted to travel the world, but reading a novel like ANNA makes me want to sell my soul for airplane tickets (and other necessary accommodations, of course! Can't come back from Paris without some Mousse au chocolat. <-- indeed a necessity.) I can't tell you how bad I want to see all the huge and historically significant monuments (their beauty doesn't hurt either)... and I've seriously been craving croissants since I put this book down! It's not fair to tease a girl like that!

But, enough about the setting and food. Or the deliciousness of the French language. Or how the French get to drink wine and beer before eighteen (did you know that?). Or how it's like the movie capital of the world. Okay, seriously enough about how great France is, I mean it... There's the wonderful characters. I couldn't be angry that I didn't feel like I got to know all of Anna's new friends as thoroughly as I'd've liked, simply because they made up for all of that with good humor and being great people just in general. Anna herself was a hilarious, authentic, incredible heroine - a compliment I do not give to often to the heroines I read about. I felt so blissfully connected to her. Even when she was being bitchy or immature, or angry and upset, the bad facets of her personality, I didn't mind. I felt like she became my best friend by the time I was through reading about her. I even felt a little envious toward her. I mean how many girls can say that they've gotten to live in France, make awesome friends, and kiss the most gorgeous American French Englishman in fictional existence? (Can you? Didn't think so.)

Riding out the plot wasn't tedious at all, which I had expected it to be. I guess you could call ANNA a character-driven story, and I typically enjoy epic novels with a substantial, action-y plot. But, being alongside Anna day in and day out, watching as new friendships are forged, as she slowly realizes she's in love with Ètienne St. Clair, I fell in love with the story in its entirety.

And one of the things that makes this an all time favorite of mine is definitely the breathtaking love and romance in this novel! It's beautiful. The whole experience. And genuine and real. First thing, St. Clair is imperfectly perfect. He's a gorgeous guy with a spine-tingling British accent, but he's short. He's totally chill in personality, but he likes to bite his fingernails out of nervousness or excitement. I bet you you can't say Aww! as loud as and enthusiastically as me... Him being so perfectly flawed, gives me hope. I feel like my guy, whoever he is out there, will be just right for me. He won't be too perfect, just plain brilliant. I only have to look at St. Clair as evidence... I don't know how many times I sighed or stared in awe at this pair.  And what Anna and St. Clair have is downright awe-inspiring! They just fit so well!

The ending blew me away the most. It requires a reread and OFTEN. Very rarely am I entirely satisfied with the way a book closes, but all the angst and drama and implications were all worth it by the end. I was so scared I was going to be disappointed. It was going so well that I was almost sure I was going to be let down. But, thankfully, that wasn't the case at all! It was a hell of a ride and at the end of it I came out with the widest beatific smile that could ever be mustered by a mere human being on this beautiful earth! It was that good for me. ANNA definitely constitutes much revisiting.

And beyond even that, I'm absolutely nuts about the author - Stephanie Perkins. Read this and tell me this isn't beautiful:

"Finally, thank you to Jarrod Perkins. Who will always be my first reader. Who pulls me out of bed, pours coffee and tea down my throat, and pushes me into my office. Who cooks dinner, carries it to my desk, and carts away the dirty dishes. Who never doubted I would succeed. Who wipes away my tears, laughs at the funny bits, and seriously considers my most frequently asked question: 'Is the boy hot enough?' I am deeply in love with you. Thank you for being you, because you are my favorite."

You can really see a lot into a person by their acknowledgment page is all I can muster after that beautiful paragraph. Which is totally true. And if you haven't visited her website yet, I would if I were you.

I've come out of this whole reading experience with two realizations: 1) I am officially a Stephanie Perkins fan and will be buying all of her ensuing novels, which brings me to 2) I am so very desirous of the next two companion novels, LOLA and ISLA! As I would say, if I were French, about ANNA, C'est magnifique!

Favorite Scenes:
"St. Clair looks nervous. 'It's been a good day. This was the first good day I've had in ages.' He walks slowly toward me. 'I don't want it to end. I don't want to be alone right now.'
'Uh.' I can't breathe.
He stops before me, scanning my face. 'Would it be okay if I stayed with you? ...'" (176/372)
"I snag his passport.
I open it up, and it's... baby St. Clair. 'Dude. How old is this picture?'
He slings my passport at me and snatches his back. 'I was in middle school' (208-209/372)
Last one, I swear...
"He is no longer St. Clair, everyone's pal, everyone's friend.
He is Ètienne. Ètienne, like the night we met. He is Ètienne; he is my friend.
He is so much more.
Ètienne. My feet trip in three syllables. È-ti-enne, È-ti-enne, È-ti-enne. His name coats my tongue like melting chocolate. He is so beautiful, so perfect.
My heart catches as he opens his arms and wraps me in a hug. My heart pounds furiously, and I'm embarassed, because I know he feels it. We break apart, and I stagger backward..." (255/372)

Trust me, I wanted to put up more. But, I don't want to give away the entire book. Best book I've read so far this year!

Thanks for reading!


Logan E. Turner said...

I'm really looking forward to reading this one. Anything set in Paris works for me!

A. Knight said...

I think you'll love it. Maybe not as much as me, but I have a feeling that you'll fall for this story.