Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
ISBN: 9780525423270
Pages: 372 pages
Publisher/Date: Dutton Books, c2010.

He’s drunk. He’s just drunk.
Calm down, Anna. He’s drunk, and he’s going through a crisis. There is NO WAY he knows what he’s talking about right now. So what do I do? Oh my God, what am I supposed to do?
“Do you like me?” St. Clair asks. And he looks at me with those big brown eyes–which, okay, are a bit red from the drinking and maybe from some crying–and my heart breaks.
Yes, St. Clair. I like you.
But I can’t say it aloud, because he’s my friend. And friends don’t let other friends make drunken declarations and expect them to act upon them the next day.
Then again . . . it’s St. Clair. Beautiful, perfect, wonderful–
And great. That’s just great.
He threw up on me. (142-143)

Anna is dropped off by her famous author father at a boarding school in Paris for her senior year of high school. Never mind that the only word of French she knows is oui, and that she only recently learned how to spell it correctly. Never mind that she has a great life in Atlanta, with a crush and a job and a best friend. But then she meets Etienne St. Clair, a fellow senior who has it all, and falls for him hard. But Anna can’t forget that not only does St. Clair have a girlfriend, but her new friend at school also harbors a crush for this perfect boy. As she tries to navigate the year by ignoring her crush, Anna realizes just why Paris is called the city of love.

This was a snappy, entertaining, and fast read that would serve lots of teen girls in their quest for romance. The dialogue was witty, with readers really seeing Anna’s insecurities of surviving in a new city and trying to make it on her own. Her activities in Paris mirror what her friends are going through back in Atlanta, and it’s really interesting to see the different sides to the same coin (so to speak). Quite a few chapters end in the manner like the portion quoted above, so you find yourself saying “Just one more chapter” and then realize an hour later that you’re almost done with the book. Great pacing. Although, can anyone tell me how to pronounce St. Clair’s first name? I’d hate to get it wrong when doing a book talk with high schoolers who may or may not know French!

And it’s a clean, chaste romance which still packs a punch and keeps readers interested and begging for more! YES! No sex is shown although it is mentioned and there’s one naked scene but no one sees anything they aren’t supposed to. I could probably recommend it to younger teens, because even though there is some underaged drinking, you see the consequences of such actions and besides, it is legal over in Paris to drink at that age. The story covers the entire school year, which makes the ending more probable as characters grow and change and evolve.

But this is hardly a morality tale, it’s a romance, so none of what I mentioned is really all that important. The cover is adorable, and so is the story. This tale of star-crossed lovers who can’t seem to escape the misunderstandings and jumping to conclusions will have readers rooting for them till the very end.

I LOVED IT. Any librarians doing the Summer Reading theme “You Are Here” should add this to any bibliography of books that take place in foreign countries. (I’m working on such a list for a future post, so stay tuned.) A great girl read that I find myself unexpectedly gushing over.

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