Hi everyone! Hope you’re staying warm and enjoying the Christmas season. It finally turned cold here in Texas (okay, it’s in the 50s but that’s cold for us!) so it’s feeling a bit more like Christmas now 🙂
Can you believe 2017 is almost over?! What a whirlwind year we’ve had! Looking forward to all that 2018 will bring! But before we jump into next year, I need to finish a few 2017 reading goals. My goal this year was to read 50 books. Last night I finished Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild, which was number 45. So I have just 5 more to go in just under 4 weeks. I think it’s doable!
As always, I am trying to catch up on a few reviews as well before the new year. Today I am reviewing Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.
I feel really conflicted about this book. On the one hand, I love the Parisian setting. And I rout for Anna and Etienne to get together. But on the other hand, there are a lot of things that bother me about this book.
- I seem to be in the minority of people that have a negative opinion of this novel. I must admit I have been putting off writing this review because I don’t want to offend people, but I also want to share my opinion. So to all my friends who like this book, good for you! Let’s chat more about it below.
- With that said, I did read this book quickly. I wanted it to get better. But mostly it just stayed the dramatic same.
Anne and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is the story of Anna and her first experience in Paris. Goodreads summarizes, “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. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend. But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?”
I picked this book up because I wanted something light and easy to get through. And this novel certainly delivered that. It’s light, it’s plot based, it’s YA. The language isn’t complex and the story line is straightforward. In that way, it was just what I was hoping for–something easy to read. But I was also disappointed by it.
First, all the teenage angst all the time! I know this is a YA book but it was too dramatic for me. Someone is constantly fighting or yelling or being self absorbed. I don’t like that these teens are so nasty to each other or that they get drunk and sleep around. I don’t like that Etienne still has this other girlfriend even though he likes Anna from day one. Then we have Anna’s almost obsession with Etienne but denial that she likes him. It just made me roll my eyes. It’s just all a little too dramatic and juvenile. Yes, I understand that I’m not the intended audience, but I think the best YA novels are more than just a light romance or fantasy. They delve into complex themes and offer us round and evolving characters. For me, Anna and the French Kiss doesn’t do that.
Second, I didn’t really connect with the protagonist. Anna is a typical high school girl, upset that she got shipped off to boarding school in Paris because she has her friends and life and potential boyfriend back home. Okay, I understand that would be hard. But it’s hard to feel bad for you when you live in Paris. But what I disliked the most about Anna is that she is not a good role model. She reminds me more of Bella from The Twilight Saga than anyone else. She is borderline obsessed with a cute boy but denies it for most of the novel. And she let’s everything in her life revolve around her relationship with him–how she treats her friends, how well she does in school, how much she eats, everything is connected to Etienne. I don’t respect her or want my girls to look to her for ways to behave.
Third, I don’t think Etienne is a very dreamy love interest. I know, I know—that is probably crazy for some of you to hear. But it’s true! Maybe I’m judging him because he is short, but I didn’t think he was that amazing. First of all, he has another girlfriend basically the entire book! But he flirts with Anna all the time! I just don’t respect him because he is “too scared” to break up with his girlfriend even though he has feelings for someone else. Plus, he doesn’t seem different than other teenage guys. He sucks up to the teachers, gets drunk with his friends, flirts with girls, etc. He isn’t different. He doesn’t have better morals than anyone else. I just hoped he would have something more to him than an average British/French/American teenager.
My biggest issue with this book is that it celebrates poor morals. And I just can’t get past that fact. The kids at the boarding school get drunk, sleep around, and are sometimes just plain nasty to each other. They don’t really have any supervision and can do basically whatever they want. It’s just not real life or at least, it’s not real life for me or my kids. I was surprised by all the references to sex and alcohol. And I was disappointed by the kissing. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a beautiful literary kiss. But these were not beautiful. They were just teenage kisses and make out sessions. They didn’t make my heart flutter and I was unimpressed.
Overall, not my favorite read. I had a hard time connecting with the characters and found the writing to be juvenile and uninspiring. The lack of high morals was the clincher for me disliking this book. I don’t plan to read the next books in the series. So while I thought I just wanted a light, easy read, I actually wanted something with more substance.
What did you think of Anna and the French Kiss?
What are some of your favorite YA novels?