Anna and the French Kiss is a breath of fresh air. Amidst all of the supernatural, fantasy and mythology based young adult books that seem to be dominating the market, this book is a fun read simply about the wonders of being a teenager in a foreign city.
Anna has been sent to a boarding school in Paris by her mainly absent father. Initially upset at leaving her best friend, her younger brother and a potential boyfriend, Anna eventually finds herself in a new circle of friends which includes the charming Etienne St. Clair. In the backdrop of this magnificent city, the budding film critic finds herself awed, confused and eventually in love.
The book flowed very naturally and Anna is a delightful point of view character. Perkins imbues her with charm and wit, while keeping her grounded and relatable. Her experiences and reactions come off wholly genuine. Perkins manages to string together a series of almost ordinary events in Anna's life, but keeps everything original and interesting. I empathised and rooted for Anna through every small triumph (movie theatres showing classic films, yes please) and heartache (who here hasn't been hurt by a best friend and that guy).
I remember when I was younger, I went abroad to California for a summer course. It was the first time I travelled by myself and I went into the experience with a mixture of dread and excitement. And then I met a boy and those three weeks were definitely my best teenage memories. St. Clair is that boy. He's every high school crush and summer love you've had or never managed to shake. I would've definitely fallen for his cool English accent and his easy way, but liked that he was real enough so I was just as irritated as Anna by his annoying indecisiveness and somewhat weak will. The chemistry between them was palpable and that teenage girl inside me tingled every time they were together, seriously.
The beauty of Anna and the French Kiss is that it brought back all the good parts of being a teenager. For anyone who has ever had a first love or a new experience, this book is one for you. I'll definitely come back to it whenever I need to revisit those three weeks in the summer.