Anna and the French Kiss (by Stephanie Perkins)

15 12 2011

Stephanie Perkins is a nerdfighter. She must be made of awesome. There. We’ve got that out of the way. Let’s focus on her debut novel Anna and the French Kiss, a Contemporary Teen Romance and one which will definitely be your security sweetness blanket when things get tough. It’ll be your hot chocolate if you should be in the situation of a bad hair day.

Anna’s father – famous novelist writing bad novels – sends Anna to school in Paris of all places. Anna begrudgingly goes even though she speaks no French and would have rather stayed in Atlanta to figure out how to go forward in her almost something relationship with her co-worker Toph. At SOAP (the School of America in Paris) she immediately falls in with the hip and popular crowd, one of which is Etienne St. Clair, a guy who’s not just beautiful (although a bit on the short side) but also has great hair. Also, he has a girlfriend called Ellie that he has been with for over a year, and that he is unable to let go, because he dislikes change. St Clair and Anna engage in a ‘yes they will-no they won’t’ kind of friendship, until the two of them have resolved all the issues that need to be resolved. Right. That’s it.  But, there’s a lot of talk about hair too. St. Clair has great hair. Anna has ‘special’ hair.

Yes, all of this sounds very flimsy, and it really also is very flimsy. It’s teen romance… in Paris… with teenagers. And they have great hair. 15-year-olds will eat this up, the cat is sure, and really sometimes a book doesn’t have to be anything more than that. It’s escapist (maybe a bit too much so) and one-dimensional. It’s lighthearted. There’s coffee. It’s Paris.  The cat also digs Sleepless in Seattle, you know…

And because the cat is in a forgiving mood today, she will overlook the shortcomings of this fluffy read like: the predictability of the entire plot, the lack of resolution with regards to the adult-teen relationships (e.g. Anna and her father; Etienne and his father – we never ‘see’ their confrontation). At least, the writing is unpretentious, easy and accessible, but so is Maureen Johnson’s or Sarah Dessen’s or any of the other YA teen romance novelists, so why wouldn’t Stephanie Perkins be allowed to write a free-flowing readable, uncomplicated romantic book, right?

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