Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss

by Stephanie Perkins

Quick plot summary:

Anna is a high school student who is forced into enrolling in a Paris boarding school for her senior year. Anna is not exactly excited for the move. She does not want to leave her friends or her crush, Toph. But her dad (a Nicholas Sparks-ish author) gives her no choice. As school starts in Paris she meets new friends; including the beautiful- but oh, so off-limits, St. Clair.

My thoughts (with spoilers):

It has been a long time since I've gotten as absorbed in a book as I was in Anna and the French Kiss. The pace was excellent, the humor subtle, and the romance, well, seriously romantic. Anna falls for St. Clair instantly, but their relationship builds into a true friendship. That foundation for their relationship is partly why the story is so interesting.

However, St. Clair has a girlfriend and Anna knows she can't have him. And to make matters worse, Anna's good friend Mer has a crush on St. Clair, too.

Meanwhile, back home, Anna's best friend Bridgette is falling for Anna's old crush Toph. Soon Bridgette and Toph are together, but neither of them tells Anna. After she finds out Anna feels totally betrayed by Bridgette and can't stand to see her.

Not long after this, Anna does the same thing to Mer. Anna and St. Clair have a moment and Mer sees them.

These things happen, I know. But Anna rationalizes both Bridgette's and her own actions by saying (emphasis from text):

"Bridgette couldn't help it. The attraction was there, and I wasn't there, and they got together, and she couldn't help it. And I've blamed her this entire time. Made her feel guilty for something beyond her control."

I have trouble with this. Yes, perhaps, attraction is out of your control. But your actions are not. Bridgette could have told Anna how she was feeling towards Toph. Anna could have talked with Mer about St. Clair. Maybe that would not have made a good story. But, in the real world- outside of the story, it is never okay to assume that something is out of your control just because your are attracted to someone.

You always have a choice. Always.

I don't disagree with everything Perkins offers, though. One example: it can be assumed that if your group of friends has a cute, charismatic guy among them, more than one of the girls has a crush on him. Just like in Anna's group of friends. So, thread lightly.

Aside from that, I really enjoyed this book. I couldn't put it down. I had to know if things would work out between Anna and St. Clair.

And I am really looking forward to the two follow ups that are currently planned. Well done, Stephanie Perkins. I am eager to read more.

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