Thursday, 10 December 2015

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins- Review by Carlyn

A book review about Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins was one of the first blog posts that I ever read. I had just started blogging and went around looking for other blogs to read.  I read so many book blogs praising this book that I was intrigued to read it myself.  I got this book this year thanks to Jon Bear. Jon Bear gave me a gift certificate from Amazon for my birthday and I used it to get this book. I haven’t always been readily accepting of gifts but I have resolved to let people do nice things for me.

Anna and the French Kiss is about an American teenager named Anna Oliphant who goes to Paris to complete her final year of high school. Anna doesn’t want to go to France but her dad enrolls her into the School of America in Paris so that she can become more independent and worldly.

At first, Anna is overwhelmed at being in a foreign country. She is unable to speak the language and she doesn’t know anyone. Fortunately, she is introduced Meredith who lives next door to her and she invites Anna to hang out with her friends. Meredith’s friends include Josh who loves art and is a high school junior, Rashmi who a senior in high school and Josh’s girlfriend and Etienne St. Clair who is also a senior and also artistically inclined. Anna develops an instant crush on Etienne but he’s dating someone else.

I liked Anna and found her to be relatable. I liked reading her progression in living in France; where she starts off from being shy about interacting with the locals to being able to go out alone. I also liked how by the end of the novel, she still hadn’t mastered the language but knew enough to communicate in French which I felt was realistic.

As I am an adult who likes to read young adult fiction, sometimes I find myself wanting to give advice to these imaginary characters. I know it’s weird but I start to care about the characters. In Anna’s case, I felt like she was my little sister. For example, there was this one part in the book where Anna has been avoiding the buffet line in the school cafeteria because she can’t speak French and is worried she’ll make a fool out of herself. 

So Anna survives on pears and baguettes until her friends make her go to the buffet. I found that so amusing and cute. Anna discovers that the servers know a little English and that they are nice. Rashmi points out that most Europeans are fluent in English or can at least speak a little of it. I could have told her that as the servers work in an American school, they would know some English. If it were me, I would have spoken to the servers in English and tried my best to pronounce the food on the menu. I would also mime or point at things if necessary.  I find that most people are nice and understanding to new people learning a language.

The pressure is on. They’ve teased me all week, because I’ve avoided anything that requires ordering. I’ve made excuses (“I’m allergic to beef,” “Nothing taste better than bread,” “Ravioli is overrated”), but I can’t avoid it forever. Monsieur Boutin is working the counter again. I grab a tray and take a deep breath.
(Perkins, 2011, p.54).

 “NOW THAT WASN’T SO TERRIBLE, WAS IT ANNA?” St Clair hollers from the other side of the cafeteria.
(Perks, 2011, p. 55).

There were lots of other cute moments in the book as well. I found myself thinking wistfully about my teenaged life though my adolescence wasn’t spent any near as beautiful as Paris. Paris is really showcased in this novel and Anna goes to many touristy places as well as the local haunts. I think the author did a great job in showing how magical Paris can be.  Of course, after reading this book I learnt about the Paris attacks which were so shocking because Paris is one of the last places that I thought anything like that would happen.

Paris is the city of love so it’s no surprise that Anna falls in love with her friend Etienne St Clair. He’s the dreamiest senior boy who is artistic, polite, kindhearted and manly so of course all the girls are in love with him. Etienne already has a girlfriend though and Anna has a love interest back in America. I thought Anna and Etienne belonged together and were soul mates. They have a friendship as well as a passion for each other. 

What was tedious about their love story was their other love interests. Etienne doesn’t want to break up with his girlfriend because he fears change.  He’s been with his girlfriend for a long time and they have been drifting apart even before he met Anna. Anna holds back her feelings for Etienne because he’s already got a girlfriend and she’s got a crush back home. The two eventually confess their feelings for each other but there are many misunderstandings that get in the way.

This book is actually the first out of a book series which are about girls going to new places and their adventures. It was a reminder to me that traveling is also an educative experience. I will be reading those books as well as this has become my favourite new book series for this year. I recommend this book for people who dream about vacationing and adventure if only in a book and anyone studying abroad.  

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