Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins
M: As many of you know, I l-o-v-e guest bloggers. And I have nothing but love for these two fabulous ladies. First, fellow author, Anna Jarzab. Her book ALL UNQUIET THINGS is out in stores now. Go buy it. Do it.
Then there’s her partner in crime (figuratively – although I wouldn’t put it past her to have an actual life of crime…) Emilie Bandy, whose melodious voice has charmed many a New Yorker via her a cappella group.
Both Emilie and Anna have fabulous careers in publishing. They took a moment out of their busy marketing/singing/publishing-awesome-books lives to review a book for us.
Check out their review of Stephanie Perkins’ ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS:
ANNA: This is going to be a funny review because we both read this book a million years ago. Though I did go through a few nights ago and reread the cute parts. I mean, it’s all cute parts, but whatever. I guess maybe I should do a little synopsis for our captivated readers? ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS is about a girl named Anna (you knew that) whose father--who by the way is a hilarious parody of Nicholas Sparks (insofar as you can be a parody of someone who is already a parody of themselves)--sends her to boarding school in Paris for her last year of high school. You’d think it’d be awesome, but as someone who did their last year of high school at a new school, that’s not fun, no matter where it is. Anyway, in Paris Anna befriends a boy named Etienne St. Clair, whose mother is American and father is French but was raised in England. He also has a girlfriend, which is whack, and though he and Anna become best friends and she falls in love with him (as do we), he’s still unavailable and it is torturous.
EMILIE: Zing! (to Nicholas Sparks)
Seriously, I can’t even say enough gushy lovey things about this book. I’m a girl who doesn’t really do chick flicks or chick lit (but I do like chick-fil-a!), so I wasn’t expecting to feel much of anything toward this book. But OH MY GOD was I wrong. I can’t even really pinpoint when it happened for me, but at a certain point in the book I could NOT tear myself away. I stayed up until 2am to finish it (and cry, obviously). It made me feel warm and fuzzy and nostalgic and giddy and head-over-heels in love with St. Clair!!! I mean, RIGHT?!?!
ANNA: I consider myself pretty much inured to boys in YA at this point. They’re all a variation on a few boring tropes and they almost never feel like real people to me (of course there are exceptions, but mainly). But St. Clair (I mean, Etienne—that’s what you call him when you’re in love with him) is impossible to resist. Maybe it’s the accent, I don’t know. I think it’s the confidence with which he handles himself, but he’s not a perfect human being by any stretch of the imagination. I pretty much want to punch him every single time I remember that he’s got that girlfriend gumming up the works—JUST BREAK UP WITH HER ALREADY, sheesh! She is the worst! But I love that she’s not really the worst, she’s just a normal person, not a villain. It’d be easy for Stephanie to portray her as this awful she-beast who has St. Clair trapped in a miserable relationship, but she doesn’t—the fact that he’s with Ellie and not Anna is utterly his decision and his fault, even though it makes him sadsauce. I feel like the ways in which people fumble around and hurt each other and themselves without really meaning to is very realistically portrayed, and because of that it doesn’t make you like the characters any less—it makes you like them more!
EMILIE: I 100% agree. I think everyone can relate to the will-they-won’t-they dynamic of Etienne (because I love him) and Anna’s relationship. Who hasn’t been in a situation where you want to barf every time you see someone because of the crazy butterflies in your stomach?! There’s this scene in AATFK (as I will lovingly refer to it going forward) where they are completed innocently lying next to each other (totally clothed!) in bed and Anna is freaking out because her arm is touching his and she’s afraid she might be breathing too loudly. I loved that scene because I was like “TOTALLY!!!!” The complete confusion and insecurity that she feels about every move she’s making is completely endearing and relatable. And let’s not forget the absolutely gorgeous way that Stephanie describes Paris in the book. I’ve BEEN to Paris, and I actually wasn’t totally crazy about it, and AATFK made me want to pack my bags immediately and MOVE there.
ANNA: My favorite part of the book, honestly, is how close Anna and Etienne become, and how deeply they love each other, not just in a bf/gf way (I feel like just saying that makes it like junior high up in this biz), but as real people—in the second half of the book, Anna refers to him several time as her best friend, and he really is, and she’s his. The thing about Anna and Etienne is that they can’t do all the touching and kissing and...other stuff that I hear teens sometimes do when they’re hot for each other, because of his relationship status, so for a long time their only connection is emotional and intellectual. Which is totally hot in its own way! Delayed gratification is a staple in romance, so I’m not going to be acting like Stephanie Perkins invented it, but it works in this book in a way that it doesn’t work in a lot of so-called YA romances. A lot of times I’m like, yeah, okay, kiss already so I can finish this book, but with ANNA I’m like, “OMG PLEASE KISS ALREADY I’M DYING HERE!!!!! CAN’T YOU SEE THIS IS MEANT TO BE?”
That said, I much prefer the earlier title, ANNA AND THE BOY MASTERPIECE. “Boy masterpiece” is a beautiful way to describe Etienne, and also gives you a sense of just how desperately in love Anna is with him right from the jump, even though she won’t admit it, to us or to herself, until later. Plus, I think “boy masterpiece” is an interesting, unusual phrase and FRENCH KISS, while maybe a little more commercially friendly, is sort of generic. And this story is anything but generic!
EMILIE: I do worry that the title might be a turn-off for some people. And as we learned yesterday, a certain adult male co-worker of ours who will not be named totally CRIED at the end of this book. So, if you think you won’t like this book or it isn’t your thing, YOU ARE WRONG. It’s everyone’s thing because it is just a damn good book. Take a look at the Amazon reviews...almost 40 reviews and not a single one under 4 stars. And that is ONLINE...where people are notoriously complete assholes. I highly recommend getting a super cozy blanket, a mug of hot cocoa (spiked with something, obvi) and reading this book straight through on a snowy day. And then come back here and gush about how totally right we were and how you want all of your friends to read it immediately because it rules.
ANNA: Yeah, I have seen on the blogs that some people don’t like the title. I personally mostly look at it as the pun it’s intended to be (geddit?? FRENCH KISS! Because she’s in Paris? You get it), but, you know? Picturing people actually Frenching can be at best absurd, at worst sort of disgusting. Anyway! Who cares, this book rocks! I’m busting at the seams in anticipation for LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR, which is a companion novel to Anna. We were blessed/cursed to have read the first three chapters of LOLA, so it’s extra torturous to wait. I have told so many people to read this book immediately. I can’t recommend it enough, and I will talk about it until every single person I know has read it.
Fin. (That’s French, btw.)