Young Adult Education

Romance in Paris: ‘Anna and the French Kiss' by Stephanie Perkins

There are few things I love as much as a good romance. I read all sort of things, and I majored in English so I guess that means I care about Great Works of Literature. Basically, though, I will find the romantic thread in any book and hold on for dear life. Like, yeah, sure I’m interested in that whole “fighting to the death” thing in The Hunger Games, but when are we going to get back to the sexy cave snuggling between Peeta and Katniss? Love triangles, forbidden romances, best friends realizing they’re perfect for each other…name a romantic cliche and I’m there. Frankly, if there isn’t the possiblity that the lead characters will kiss after enduring a long series of miscommunications, missed connections and at least once instance of “we-almost-kissed-but-then-we-were-interrupted-right-before-our-lips-touched,” then I’m not interested.

That’s not to say that all romance is inherantly good. Not even close! That’s why it’s extra special when a book features romance, but is also smart, funny, poignant and exciting. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins hits all of those points. Although a lot of girls would love to go to school in France, Anna is not too happy when her dad sends her to boarding school in Paris for her senior year. Gradually, though, she starts to love France, her school and her new friends (and her possibly more-than-friend Etienne St. Clair). I stayed up way,way too late one night finishing it because, even though I knew what would happen (it’s a romance, duh), I just could not go on with my life until I found out how it would happen.

Here, in handy list form, is what makes Anna and the French Kiss so great:

1. France
What is more romantic than Paris? Literally nothing.

2. Boarding school
I’ve mentioned my love of books set in boarding schools before. All books should be set in boarding schools.

3. Etienne St. Clair
The fact that a character exists named Etienne St. Clair is enough of a reason to love this book. The fact that he’s the majorly swoony, English-accented, very charming love interest is even better. I also love that St. Clair is often described as short, defying that whole “tall, dark and handsome” romance stereotype. I’m fully aware that Etienne St. Clair is a fictional high school boy and I’m a very real 26 year old woman, but that isn’t in any way stopping me from developing a huge crush on him. That’s the power Etienne St. Clair.

4. Food
Chocolate croissants? Banana-Nutella crepes? I’m hungry already.

5. Realistic Teenage Love
One thing I can’t tolerate in a YA romance is when teenagers are super cool and jaded about love. That wasn’t the case for me or for anyone I knew in high school. Having a crush in high school is all about wondering what he/she’s doing at all times, checking your phone repeatedly, annoying your friends by refusing to talk about anything other than your crush and just generally obsessing. Stephanie Perkins has this down.

Some Highlights:

-Anna’s dad is Nicholas Sparks. Okay, she doesn’t actually say he’s Nicholas Sparks, but he’s a famous author who writes cliched books about people who fall in love and then die of some terrible disease. Once I hate-read Dear John just because I saw that Channing Tatum was in the film adaptation (apparently I can’t resist anything even tangentially related to Channing Tatum), and all I will say is that any criticism of Anna’s dad is completely warranted.

-If you like Anna and the French Kiss, be sure to check out the companion novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door. It’s every bit as delightful, set in San Francisco and Anna and St. Clair are minor characters! A third book, Isla and the Happily Ever After, is due out next year. Some people (ahem, me) can hardly wait.

-I discovered Stephanie Perkins through the podcast Authors are Rockstars. Check it out if you’re into YA lit!

You should definitely read Anna and the French Kiss if you’re a fan of John Green or Sarah Dessen. Have you guys read Anna or Lola and the Boy Next Door? Do you also have a major, age-inappropriate crush on Etienne St. Clair? Let me know in the comments! As always, I love to hear your suggestions for books you’d like to see in Young Adult Education. Leave a comment, email me at youngadulteducation@gmail.com or find me on Twitter @KerryAnn.

Image via Goodreads

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