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?
Discovery: The Nerdfighter community. Months before Anna was published, I’d heard lots of early buzz from reviewers and authors I admire. Word on the street was Stephanie Perkins had achieved the impossible: a fun, fresh debut novel, written during that hellish time known as NaNoWriMo. It took me a few months to find a copy (I was still in the Philippines at the time), but I managed and began reading it immediately.
+ Strong, confident writing. This may be Perkins’s first novel, but her writing is tight and fast-paced enough to keep even finicky readers going.
+ Funny and easygoing characters. A novel like this could have opened the doors to whiny and bitter characters, but Perkins surprises readers with Anna and the gang. The banter is believable and flows between them with barely any effort. Of course Etienne is a plus for the young female group, but he never feels like a cookie-cutter Prince Charming. Anna is realistically portrayed and a delight to hear from.
+ Excellent use of setting. Novels about Paris can easily sink into cliche, but Anna and the French Kiss uses the setting so perfectly that it is impossible to imagine the same story in any other setting BUT SOAP and the streets that Anna wanders.
– Pacing. As a first novel, it is an admirable send-off, but Perkins does run into some slow chapters, mostly set in the boarding school. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the slower look allows the reader to learn more about the characters’ backstory, but after a few scenes, it could feel a little long.
Recommendations: Teenage girls will adore the comical and witty romance between Anna and Etienne, but this novel’s readership should not be limited to the YA audience. Hand your favourite person a copy and watch the sparks fly.