Book Review : Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

71N-hAxibZLTitle : Anna and the French Kiss

Author : Stephanie Perkins

Publisher : Dutton Juvenile

Release date : December 2nd, 2010

Rating : 2.8/5

Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

Can Anna find love in the City of Light?

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. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she’s waiting for?

Review :

Anna and the French Kiss would have been amazing…if it wasn’t for the stupid protagonist and all the cheap tricks Stephanie Perkins used. However, it did offer everything it suggested in the summary, and it was still good.

Do you want the good news or the bad news first?… Let’s start with the bad, and finish this up on a good note, ok?

I convinced myself to read this book, thinking the protagonist would be an eager, enthusiastic teenager, full of life and curiosity and innocence. But what was most prominent was Anna’s idiocy. She’s a living example of one of the reasons why everyone hates Americans. She’s 17, and demonstrates ignorance and egocentricity in all its glory.

[…] and no one will invite me to watch the mimes escape from their invisible boxes, or whatever it is people do here in their spare time. (p. 9)

Anna Oliphant thinks that Parisians go watch mime shows in their spare time. I repeat, SHE THINKS PARISIANS GO WATCH MIME SHOWS IN THEIR SPARE TIME. Anna Oliphant doesn’t know that “yes” in French is spelt o-u-i. OUI is one of those foreign words that aren’t even foreign anymore because EVERYBODY KNOWS IT. Speaking of languages, for a girl who knew she was about to go to a Parisian school in freaking France, she didn’t even pick up a simple dictionary to learn the basics of French! She moves there, and is so completely freaked out about the language barrier, that she literally eats bread for a whole week because she doesn’t know to order food. It would have been too hard to point at the food and nod, right?

Despite months of having lived in Paris, she still cannot, for the life of her, translate “Monday” and “morning” in French. And nop, she doesn’t know how to write “s’il vous plait” either, which means please. Come on, that’s one of the first words you learn IN ANY LANGUAGES. Is she even trying??

Oon ploss see voo play. (p. 105)

Which should be “Une place, s’il vous plaît”, which means “A seat, please.” *facepalms*

Anna Oliphant wants to be the nation’s greatest female critic.

“There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of theaters here.” […] I mean, this should have been mentioned Day One, Life Skills Seminars. This is very important information here! (p. 89)

Well, has she even mentioned, before this extract, that she liked movies? No. She only sounds melodramatic. Or does she actually like movies that much? Because, for a freaking aspiring film critic, she seems totally, exasperatedly ignorant about movies. She ONLY watches American movies and doesn’t even know that Paris is THE film appreciation capital. No no no, she hasn’t just started writing down her reviews : she has a whole blog and has been doing that for a while, for “good practice”.

Now, for the surprising part : another female protagonist who gets her world turned upside down by a guy, and whose thoughts are consumed by him… Like we haven’t seen enough of that already. It’s all she thinks about. She literally FALLS IN LOVE with the FIRST GUY she encounters, and who, dear god, happens to be beautiful, has a French name and an English accent.

Don’t get me wrong: I knew it was a romance YA fiction, and of course there would be love. I knew what I was getting myself into, but man, I was hoping for a better protagonist. Also, one who wasn’t such a hypocrite. Hypocrisy? Oh yeah. Now I’m getting in the realm of spoilers, so be warned. [Spoilers ahead]

 

Anna has liked Toph for a while, but comes back to Atlanta to find him taken…by her best friend, Bridgette. How tragic. Étienne is waiting on the sidelines, and she just needed a reason to go back to him. How convenient, eh? The easiest way to get rid of an old crush: just write him as being taken, and make it so painful and despicable that Anna will have no choice but to hate him AND her friend. So, that would make way for Étienne. Now that Toph is no longer single, she can go back to Étienne, being comforted by him and confiding in him and hating her former best friend… except that Anna is exactly like Bridgette. No, she’s worse. Étienne has a GIRLFRIEND. And what does Anna do? Flirt, hold hands, sleep (JUST SLEEPING) with him, make eye contact in darkened theaters, et j’en passe. In case you’re wondering, all of this is part of cheating. And Étienne is just as guilty as Anna. Is it okay to cheat? No. Is it okay to cheat if your girlfriend is an arrogant b*tch? NO, AGAIN. I don’t agree with the message Perkins conveyed through her novel. Cheating’s not freaking acceptable, no matter the situation. How about breaking up first, hm?

And oh, Meredith. What Anna did to Meredith is the same as what Bridgette did to Anna. Meredith, Anna’s first friend in Paris, was in love with Étienne. And of course, since Anna knows this, she does her best not to hurt Mer’s feelings, right? Umm, think again. Anna practically dismisses the fact that Mer likes Étienne. But so what? Anna is the PERFECT GIRL, the ONLY ONE worthy of St. Clair. Mer is a chubby volleyball player, Ellie is a stuck up snob and Amanda is a one-dimensional b*tch. Such clichés.

Alriiiight, so my rant was a little bit long. Sorry about that. What I liked about this book? It’s CANDY. From the cover to the story, it’s sweet and cute and romantic. It’s a light, easy read, very chick flick-ish. It was MADE to entertain our romantic hearts. It made me laugh many times, reminding me of the kind of banter one has in high school: sarcastic, smartassy, totally inappropriate and totally hilarious. I loved it.

Also, I really liked the guided tour. It felt foreign, magical, Parisian. As a girl who lived in Paris for a year, I can assure you that Perkins got the atmosphere right. Fortunately, despite mentioning some of its flaws, she wasn’t too harsh on them.

And the boys? Gosh, Étienne AND Josh could have been my high school crushes.

 

All in all, this novel had its main flaw in the protagonist herself, which lowered my grade A LOT. I didn’t want and couldn’t tolerate following her narration for too much time, it was that bad. But, my general feeling of this book was that it was good and I recommend it if you want a couple of carefree reading.

 

Picture sources : 1, 2

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