Published: August 2011
Genre: young adult, romance, travel
Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her coworker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection. So she’s less than thrilled when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year. But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new people, including the handsome Étienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he’s taken —and Anna might be, too.
It’s not that Anna’s unhappy to be in Paris. She’s upset her parents didn’t give her a choice to go to boarding school, to leave her best friend and work crush. Besides, she can’t even speak French. But as the days pass, Anna begins to make friends, and rather rapidly becomes close with Étienne St. Clair, resident Beautiful Guy. No matter how hard she tries, she can’t stop her growing affections, even though she knows he’s not available at all.
This book is so stinkin’ cute. I couldn’t stop giggling, I struggled to repress any squeals of giddiness, and I simply struggled to put this down. It’s adorable. It’s honest. Truly, think back on high school relationships (heck, even adult ones are like this!) when you were confused but excited — he likes me…he likes me not — about your crush. Tack on the fact he’s unavailable, your determination to keep this great friendship intact despite your awkwardness and feelings of blatant attraction, and you’ve got this book. Yes, it’s about a girl who studies abroad, who learns French, who goes to the cinema to watch and critique films for her blog, who obsessively cleans and straightens her surroundings, and who comes to terms with her father’s growing collection of cliché cancer romance books. But all of this is background to the actual story: her crush on St. Clair.
His character is wonderful. He’s American by birth, but his British accent and impeccable French confuse Anna at first. He’s not your usual tall-and-gorgeous male lead. St. Clair likens himself to Napoleon Bonaparte, because he too is rather short, with crooked teeth and unkempt hair. He’s friendly with everyone, charming, intelligent, and artistic. Whether he’s being a friend, an almost-boyfriend, or boyfriend, St. Clair is remarkably observant and immensely loyal. I loved the moments when his British slang slipped out, and experiencing those cultural differences all over again was so much fun.
St. Clair and Anna quickly become best friends. They’re lab partners, they share stories, they go to the movies together, he helps her order food in French, he gives her tours of the city, she helps him deal with his mother’s illness, she aids in confronting his controlling father — and everything about their relationship is filled with tension and mixed signals. Does he like her? Does he know she likes him? Why did he do this, say that? And why is Ellie still in the picture when it’s so very clear to the both of them that they’re more than friends?
Oh my gosh. Anna’s basically my brain. Any girl’s brain. From the overanalyzing minute details, to basking in the absolute thrill of being the object of a guy’s affections for the briefest space of time, Anna and the French Kiss is just…sweet, young romance perfection. Perkins truly captured the whole journey of falling in love.
In short, I want to read this again. Right now.
I think I will.