Thursday, December 1, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss - a sweet YA romance

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
(A Review)
What girl doesn’t love romance?

Over the holiday, I fully embraced the idea of relaxation.  I made every effort to find some peace of mind and shake off the stresses of work and everyday life.  So instead of reading complex science fiction or dark dystopian or something profoundly meaningful, I picked up two romance novels; one was YA fiction and the other adult romance.

Of the two books I read, the YA novel was completely delightful, and for me, nostalgic as it weaves the story of a girl’s first love.  The other book was predictable and cutesy – at most, so I will no longer mention it.  The point being that the YA novel was recommendable, while the adult novel was not.  (Score one for YA writers!)

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins deftly weaves the reader into the story about the insecurities, longings, confusion, and magic that is first love.  This book made me smile, but more than that, it brought back all of my memories and feelings of falling in love that very first time.  This isn’t an easy achievement for an author.  I often enjoy the romantic elements of many of the books I read, but this book read so true to life that it stirred up forgotten feelings.

First love is complicated, scary, at times heartbreaking, and overall, wonderful.  The main character, Anna, experiences all of this and it resonates – at least to an old-timer like me, who likes to live in the past once in a while.  I believe that if I were a teenage girl, the realistic thoughts, actions, and feelings of the characters would still resonate and leave me wanting more.

Anna is sent to live at boarding school in France by her father, a novelist of new money and fame.  She expects to be miserable – leaving behind her crush and the possible beginnings of a relationship with him.  But what she finds in Paris is a new group of interesting and loyal friends and, of course, romance.  The problem is that the boy she finds herself falling for is taken and has been in the relationship for over a year.

Relationships – especially navigating that very first one – are never easy and this book recognizes the challenges.  It isn’t wholly predictable, which I like, and at times, it is frustrating because you just want to shout at the characters to tell each other how they feel.  But does that happen in real life?  Especially when it’s the first time you’ve ever had those feelings?  No.

But it is sweet and touching and everything that first love should be and that’s why I highly recommend it to older teens.  (I say older teens as it does mention drinking and sex, so discretion advised.  And as my students are not “older teens” I feel the need to put in this warning.)

Enjoy!  I know that I did.

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