If you haven’t heard of Stephanie Perkins yet that can only be because you either don’t follow YA trends or you have been living under a rock. Anna and the French Kiss is the first in a series of YA books about young love and growing up. It has a very girlie pink cover and I’m not ashamed to admit that I find it very pretty sitting on my shelf. There has been a lot of buzz on social media about these books so I finally decided to pick them up and find out why everyone was raving about them.
Now, most of you may have gathered by now that I am a hopeless romantic. I am a sucker for a proper, heart-warming love story and Anna and the French Kiss certainly delivers in the romance stakes. Firstly, it is set in Paris, one of the most romantic cities in the world and a place I am longing to visit. Perkins manages to bring the city to life in this book. From her descriptions I felt like I was walking the streets with Anna, hearing the same sounds, smelling the same scents and seeing the same sights. All the famous Paris landmarks feature at some point in the story and that somehow adds an extra charm to the novel.
When we first meet Anna she is seventeen and she has been sent to Paris by her novelist father to finish her last year of high school at the School of America in Paris, or SOAP as the students fondly call it. She doesn’t want to be in Paris. Things were just starting to go somewhere with the guy she had fancied for ages and she misses her friends back home in America. As the weeks unfold, however, Anna finds herself slowly assimilating to life in Paris and as she makes new friends she also discovers a potential new love interest.
‘I want to memorize his scent and the touch of his skin – one of his arms, now against me – and the solidness of his body. No matter what happens, I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.’
Anna and the French Kiss captures perfectly what it is like to be a teenage girl – the hormones, the friendship fall-outs and make ups, the fun of having a crush and the stress of not knowing what to do with your life. I might not have gone to a school in Paris but I reading about Anna and her many dilemmas did bring back memories of what it was like to be 17. Heck, I still have the occasional bout of raging hormones!
As a character Anna is extremely likeable. She is a bit shy and, like many a YA heroine, she doesn’t realise she is pretty. Her budding romance with school hottie, Etienne St Clair is simply adorable. St Clair reminded me of a teen flick hero. He’s good-looking and sweet and funny and I did find myself swooning along with Anna when he called her beautiful. These two are unbelievably sweet and you cannot help but root for them.
Don’t go thinking that this book is all fluff and sweetness, though. In between the romantic stuff Perkins deals with more serious issues such as parental illness, pressure from parents and learning from your mistakes. All of Anna’s relationships are tested and you really do see her grow and change as the book progresses. This is a true bildungsroman and it is a story that anyone who was ever a teenage girl could relate to. It was at times funny, at times cute and at other times touching. If you want something fun for summer reading then look no further. Grab a copy and let yourself be swept up in the angst and joy of young love.