Many of us look forward to the day we leave home to live in our own apartment or college dorm room. Being alone. Being independent. No parents to listen to, no curfew; you can make and break your own rules. Yet when that day suddenly arrives a bit earlier than you thought – well, it can send you into a whirlwind. This is what Anna experiences when her father decides to enroll her in a boarding school in France for her senior year of high school. Having no choice, Anna leaves everything she loves and knows to attend an American school in Paris.
Anna doesn’t know any French. At all. Consequently, she must take beginner French with the freshmen. That’s the downside – but on the upside, she quickly makes friends with Mer, Josh, Rashmi, and Étienne, who goes by his last name, St. Clair.
Anna struggles to learn the language and find herself. As her heart and brain fight, one thing is clear from the start: she is in love with St. Clair. But their relationship is anything but clear, because St. Clair has a long-term girlfriend, Ellie. On the border between being friends and more than friends with St. Clair, Anna realizes other things too, like that the lives of her old friend and her former love interest did not stay on pause while she was away. This book truly captures the feeling of being in love.
Anna and the French Kiss is not one of the best romance stories I have ever read, but it’s not a flop either. The writing is ordinary and a lot of the details seem unnecessary and irrelevant. The story is definitely not worth its almost four hundred pages. One aspect that I like, and that makes Anna and the French Kiss stand out, is that Anna does not get the guy immediately. Most stories follow the beginning of the relationship, the fallout, crying over the boy, and then the moment when the couple get together – and then end. Anna eventually goes through all these steps, but multiple times. When she and St. Clair hit the peak of their relationship, they have a tragic fallout but eventually go back to step one only to repeat the process.
Even though the ending is predictable, Anna and the French Kiss is a nice read. I would recommend it to teenage girls who are interested in Paris, since the book does include descriptions of the culture of the city.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.