About the Book

Title: Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss #1)
Published: 2010
Series: Anna and the French Kiss
Swoonworthy Scale: 5

BFF Charm: Eventually
Talky Talk: Play By Play
Bonus Factors: Paris, Tasty Business, Boarding School, Nicholas Sparks Haterade
Anti-Bonus Factor: The Title! The Cover! Gah!
Relationship Status: Tour Guide

The Deal:

On the Scale of Parental Suck, I would say that sending a teenager to boarding school in Paris ranks around, ooh, a big fat zero because WHO WOULD SAY NO TO BOARDING SCHOOL IN PARIS? C’EST MAGNIFIQUE. Well, apparently, Anna disagrees with me, because she is severely pissed that her douchebag author dad is sending her abroad for her senior year. Sure, she has to say good-bye to her best friend, Bridget, and her hottie movie theater co-worker, Toph, but she’s in PARIS FOR GOD’S SAKE. WITHOUT PARENTAL SUPERVISION. QUOI THE QUOI.

Fortunately for both of us, Anna quickly opens up to the city and everything it has to offer, including croissants, indie movie theaters (she’s a film geek), new friends and a gorgeous, charming boy named Etienne St. Clair. As Anna explores the streets of Paris with St. Clair, her problems with the French language are soon outweighed by her problems with love. Because, of course, she totally falls for St. Clair. And, of course, he has a girlfriend. And did I mention that one of Anna’s new friends, Meredith, is crushing on him too? Yeah. As the French would say, C’EST LA VIE.

BFF Charm: Eventually

BFF Charm with a sweatband on

At the beginning of the book, I had a tough time connecting with Anna, because she was all sad and freaked out and I was like LET’S GO OUT AND DRINK WINE AND MEET SOME FINE FRENCH DUDES. But then I remembered that I’m an adult, and she’s a teenager, and it makes sense that she’s overwhelmed. Plus, she’s got such a kind heart, and she truly does care about doing right by people. Like most adolescent girls, Anna just needs more confidence, and when she finally finds it, I wanted to join her on the streets of Paris so we could celebrate together with champers and macarons.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Anna’s relationship with St. Clair is full of deliciously awkward moments, and the fact that he has a girlfriend adds a nice forbidden edge. However, the chemistry never truly sizzled for me, and I think the romantic build-up went on for just a bit too long. That might be because St. Clair just… isn’t my type. He’s got a lot of things going for him– he’s smart, sensitive, funny AND has a British accent– but in the Posh D. game of love, he would never make it out of the friend zone.

Talky Talk: Play By Play

Perkins writes in a v. straightforward and dialogue-driven style, which I think would appeal a lot to teen readers. I, however, wished for a little more complexity, a little more going on under the surface. There were moments when the characters really rang true, esp. Anna, but there were other times when the drama was far too weighty to be supported by such a breezy style.

Bonus Factor: Paris

Skyline of Paris France with Eiffel Tower in back

I can’t even say the word “Paris” without sighing deeply. J’ADORE! It is the most magical city on earth, and I loved living vicariously through Anna as she ate crepes, visited the Pantheon and gazed up at Notre Dame. In fact, if I were her, I would have dropped out of school all together and gotten a job at a cafe so I could be just like Amelie and spend the rest of my life doing fabulously whimsical things. But then that would have resulted in a book that was just a rip-off of a movie so… yeah. Stay in school, kids!

Bonus Factor: Tasty Business

SWEET BUTTERY CROISSANTS THERE IS SO MUCH TASTY BUSINESS IN THIS BOOK! There’s macarons and crepes and cheese and bread and strong coffee and it was absolutely refreshing to see Anna enjoy it without being all, “Wait, how many calories is in this thing?”

Bonus Factor: Boarding School

Regal old boarding school building with turrets and ivy on the stone walls

This book takes boarding school to a whole other level because IT’S IN PARIS. Which you know. Because I keep spazzing about it. But IT’S A BOARDING SCHOOL IN PARIS.

Bonus Factor: Nicholas Sparks Haterade

Cover of The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks with a blue sky above a house in the country

And now we get to my second favorite part of the book (after PARIS): James Ashley, Anna’s dad. It’s pretty obvious that Perkins modeled his character after Nicholas Sparks, and she takes great pleasure in bashing him. WHICH IS AWESOME. Mr. Ashley writes books with titles like The Entrance and The Incident about people falling in love then dying of cancer and it made me heart Stephanie Perkins SO MUCH. I only wish Mr. Ashley would have appeared in the book more, just so he could share more of his writing genius with us. Because he is a genius, you know. He’s basically the Shakespeare of Our Time.

Anti-Bonus Factor: The Title! The Cover! Gah!

I’m sorry, but even a strong, spirit-filled YAngelist like me can’t say the title of this book without first lowering my voice to a whisper. And then I immediately get “French kissing in the USA” stuck in my head and that is NOT COOL.

Relationship Status: Tour Guide

This book did a fantastic job of guiding me around the City of Lights, and it brought back all of the dazzling memories of my previous visits there. If you’re never been to Paris, then I highly recommend meeting up with Anna and St. Clair so you can get a taste of the wonders in store. In fact, I got so distracted by Paris itself that I wasn’t really interested when the book started talking about more personal stuff. It’s like, dude, I wanna see the sights, not yr angst! So after the tour ended, I bid the book au revoir, headed toward the Seine and didn’t look back.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Pengiun. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!).

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.