So… I haven’t read a pure romance YA novel since The Selection (which I did not enjoy very much… oops) was a thing, which was a LONG time ago. But this quarantine I caved, and finally read the mother of all YA romance, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.
I assume everyone has heard of this book before, because it’s commonly hailed as THE YA romance, so I won’t give too thorough of an introduction; if you’re interested, there are synopses everywhere on the internet, and you should be able to find a much more detailed summary quite easily!
So anyway, this is the story of an american girl by the name of Anna Oliphant, an outgoing, clumsy, aspiring film critic who is sent to a boarding school in France by her father. At first, she’s terrified, which is understandable considering the major culture shock and the abruptness of this change, but as she spends more and more time in the city of light, she starts to change her mind…
Now, for my thoughts:
Let’s preface this by saying I liked it. It was a classic YA romance and I understand why it gets the hype it has. It was sweet and witty and Anna is a generally likable protagonist (sort of) who is relatable and genuine. I also loved exploring Paris through the novel and living vicariously through Ms. Oliphant.
When you read it, you get what you came for, light cheesy fun, with lots of mutual pining and teasing; the works! But… I do also have a few bones to pick with this book — because it’s far from perfect.
First of all, this book almost promotes cheating in a way, because the main love interest, Étienne St. Clair, is afraid to leave his relationship despite clearly liking Anna. And while I understand that his previous relationship was toxic, it still does not make it right… which greatly lowered my enjoyment of it. I was quite frustrated by St. Clair’s consistent refusal to break things off with his girlfriend throughout the story.
As well, I far preferred the dynamic between Anna and St. Clair when they were friends to when they actually got together. It was a lot more playful and natural, not to mention much less cheesy.
Regardless, it was a fun beach read, and I don’t have any super strong criticisms. Just make sure you’re not coming in with the expectation that this plotline and the characters will somehow turn your life upside down and leave your jaw on the ground!
I would also like to commend Perkins on her ability to make her characters realistic and relatable, which I appreciate, because it makes the reading experience much more immersive and enjoyable!
Overall, I would give this book a 7/10. You won’t be disappointed reading it, but it isn’t anything out of the ordinary either. If you are a fan of beach reads, romance, or realistic fiction, this is a good book to try 🙂