Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss

What You Need to Know:  This charming teen romance combines a fun Parisian setting and realistic characters in a sweet but believable story.  

Summary:  Anna was all set for her senior year in Atlanta, good job at the multiplex, cute boy to crush on, BFF to hang with.  It got shattered when her dad, a sappy novelist, decided that Anna will spend her senior year in Paris.  Stuck in a country where she doesn't know anybody or speak the language, Anna is miserable, until she meets Etienne St. Clair.  Short, cosmopolitan, and completely adorable, St. Clair would be major boyfriend material -- if not for his long term girlfriend.  So, Anna contents herself with being St. Clair's best friend.  As Anna and Etienne get closer, things get more and more confusing.  

What Worked:  Almost everything!  This book is wonderful -- fun and sweet and romantic without being sappy.  Anna is not happy about being uprooted from her life, but admits that being forced to spend a year in Paris is not the worst thing in the world.  What really sells this book is the realistic characters.  Anna sounds like most teens I know -- not sheltered, but not ready to be on her own just yet.  And even though she doesn't realize it, Anna is a charmer -- smart and fun and a little goofy.  One thing I liked is that Perkins lets you know Anna is attractive, but doesn't go on and on about how beautiful she is.  Etienne could be too perfect, but his exasperating unwillingness to take a risk with Anna makes him more believable.  The supporting cast of Anna's classmates are equally well drawn.  Anna and the reader get to explore Paris together, but this doesn't feel like a travelogue.  The descriptions are really nicely woven into the story.  

What Didn't:  Anna's "back home" subplot really didn't gel for me.  It was realistic, but it dragged the narrative down a little bit.    Anna and Etienne's "will they/won't they" dance gets a tad exasperating, as the reader can clearly see that they are crazy for each other. 

However:  Exasperating is a lot of what romance is about. 

Who Would I Give This Book To?   I plan on giving it to everybody I can!  But seriously, I would give it to girls who read Sarah Dessen or Deb Calletti, kids who want to travel abroad, teens looking for a good realistic fiction read. 

Also note:  This book would make an interesting paring with Revolution by Donnelly.  Anna and Andi are very different, but both of them find something they need in Paris!  

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