Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

17453983I know it’s terrible to judge a book but its cover, but I’ll be the first to admit… sometimes I do. If I see a cover that I find attractive, I am more likely to pick it up and read the back of the book or the jacket for more info. And if I don’t like the cover? I skip it. This works well for me. Because the kinds of covers I skip over tend to be the formulaic supernatural thriller series young adult novels.

Yawn. I feel like if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all.

The other kinds of books I skip over are books that appear to be a part of a series. I’m not opposed to a series or trilogy, but that is the popular thing right now, and it is so overdone if you ask me. What happened to a great book standing by itself? I don’t want to get sucked in and have to keep buying the next book and the next book.

Stephanie Perkins’ book Anna and the French Kiss is a weird combination of these two things. I was a) drawn to the cover and b) not thrilled by the fact that (judging by the covers) the book was part of a what appeared to be a trilogy (Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After being the other two books). But oh, those covers.

Bold, bright colors.

Titles that paralleled each other in structure.

Cover writing in a crisp, white, sans serif font (oh, I love a good sans serif).

The cover sold me.

And then the book sold me on reading the other two (which I found out are only loosely a “series” with the other two; there’s some character crossover, but it’s minor and each story can stand alone without the others, so that scores Perkins some bonus points).

Anyhow. On with the review. Anna has a great life at home in Atlanta: a guy who’s almost her boyfriend, a job she really likes, a best friend she really loves. And then her famous father decides that Anna should spend the year in Paris at SOAP, the School for Americans in Paris. Just like that, she’s taken from her known world to the unknown. But she makes friends. Meredith, her neighbor, takes her in and she befriends all of the kids in Meredith’s group: Rashmi, Josh, and St. Clair. Very, very attractive St. Clair. St. Clair who’s got a girlfriend. How will Anna’s story unfold during these nine months in Paris?

Ok, first up, I’ve just got to say that one of the things I didn’t like about the book was how unreal it felt for Anna’s dad to send her to school in Paris. Anna’s mom appears to have primary physical custody because the dad is a famous author who travels a lot, so it’s a little absurd that she would just willy-nilly agree to allow Anna to go to study abroad for the year. That really irritated me.

But that aside, I enjoyed this book a lot. It’s a total summer-at-the-beach-or-pool read, the kind of book you devour in a few hours because you’re anxiously turning the page to find out what happens with Anna and St. Clair. It’s the kind of book that makes you wish that you attended a boarding school in Paris when you were a teenager (or even in college). It’s a fun, light read, and sometimes you just need one of those. And it’s not horrible the way a lot of “fun, light reads” are. The characters have some kind of depth and are likable and not totally gross.

I will say that this novel is definitely chick lit for teenagers or adult women looking for an escape from reality for a bit. But that doesn’t make it bad. Sometimes you just need that, and I’d rather read some compelling chick lit with characters I enjoy than some crappy fan fiction-based “romance” novels. Give me Anna any day!

And now, it’s back to powering through the last 200 pages of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

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