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Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

For all you girls who swoon over British accents, you should meet Étienne St. Clair, the son of a Frenchman and an American artist, who was raised in London. And he sounds like it. A senior at the School of America in Paris, he's everything a boy should be – not just hot but kind, loyal, funny, and thoughtful. Oh, and did I mention his crooked smile?

It's no wonder Anna Oliphant, a new senior at the school, falls in love with him. It's also no wonder St. Clair is taken.

Such is the premise of Stephanie Perkins' badly titled but beautiful romance, Anna and the French Kiss. This is a book that must not be judged by its cover.

Perkins creates a flawed but relatable character in Anna. Often oblivious to the troubles of her friends because of her obsession with St. Clair, she does stupid things to make him jealous. Yet any teenager who's been in love will recognize bits of him- or herself in Anna. She's preoccupied, yes, but she's also a good student trying to figure everything out: a debilitating crush, a new life she didn't choose in a foreign country, and the politics of her fragile new friendships and long-distance old ones. As much as Anna isn't perfect, it's hard not to sympathize with her or to fail to see your own faults and decisions reflected in her.

Stephanie Perkins is fluent in Teenager, which is another reason to love this book. The conversations, slang, and interactions are realistic; when St. Clair and his friend Josh are teasing each other, for example, you can't help but recall similar conversations with your own friends.

Some parts of the story are, of course, quite cliché: St. Clair is the first boy Anna meets in Paris. However, in other ways, Perkins must be applauded for keeping her distance from stereotypes. St. Clair is neither tall nor dark – he's actually three inches shorter than Anna (in his boots!) and quite pale – though he is handsome. Meredith, the group's resident athlete, is the most sensitive of Anna's friends, while Rashmi, who's bound for the Ivy Leagues, is the one with the most frequent public displays of affection.

Perkins' Paris is a beautiful city full of delectable food, tiny movie theaters, and famous landmarks. As a Spanish student, I'd never thought much about the capital of France, but Paris is now a destination I'd love to visit. After reading Anna and the French Kiss, it's hard not to feel like you've visited Paris and witnessed the changing of its seasons. The sense of atmosphere is a powerful and enchanting component of the book.

Anna and the French Kiss is fast-paced, easy to read, and hard to put down. It's not dense, and includes enough plot twists to keep you interested. That curiosity, along with a love of the characters, setting, and mood, are sure to carry you through the book quickly.

I would recommend Anna and the French Kiss to anyone who has even the slightest ­interest in romance. Those who have been in love will appreciate how well this book chronicles the journey of a love-struck teenager.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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livisan said...
Sept. 17, 2012 at 10:29 am:
Thoughtful review. i want to read it now!  
 
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