Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #79: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #79: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie PerkinsAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #1
Published by Speak on July 16, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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three-stars

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. She is less than thrilled about boarding school in Paris - until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, he has it all - including a serious girlfriend. Will Anna get her French kiss?

Recommended by: Sarah M. (Sarah and Her Bookshelves) & Heather

Before I launch into what will be, for this book, a fairly negative review, I want to get some things straight. First, I don’t think Anna and the French Kiss is a bad book; in fact, I think it’s good, but in some ways not good for the particular person I am. Second, this review’s going to be somewhat ranty, but I really did like and sometimes even love much of Anna and the French Kiss. If my ranting will upset you because you love everything about this book, I’m envious that you had all the feels and send you on your way with my blessing.

Perkins most definitely has the makings of a contemporary author who will write books that I personally will love. Even though this hasn’t been an entirely positive experience for me, I will undoubtedly be reading the rest of her books. She has great snappy dialogue and tons of pop culture references, both things that are total Christina bait. Plus, I totally adore the setting at SOAP (School of America Paris) with it’s dorm rooms that are small and awful to Anna but absurdly amazing as dorm rooms go. It’s great too because most boarding school books end up being so depressing and full of intense melodrama, but Anna and the French Kiss is free of that.

The familial relationships and friendships in Anna and the French Kiss were largely great too. Anna’s father, James Ashley, an obvious reference to Nicholas Sparks, amused me no end. He forced her to go to Paris, so he can feel cultured. Initially, she’s very anti-Paris and doing the poor me having to go to France thing, but it’s really that her agency was taken away and not that Paris is awful. Plus, Anna’s very afraid of being rude or doing something wrong, which is something I can relate to in her fear of venturing out in France not knowing the language.

I like the way that Anna’s new friends draw her out of her shell. She could, had she not found good friends, have ended up like Cath, shut up in her dorm room for much or all of her year at SOAP. Instead, she discovers resources within herself she never knew she had and ends up having an amazing experience.[Aside: St. Clair takes her out for panini and she’s amazed at this rare and unusual sandwich, but this book came out in 2010 and Panera is everywhere. There are all kinds of sandwich places in Atlanta that serve paninis. It’s possible, but seriously?] I think the whole crew of friends is interesting, though I would have liked to get to know Josh, Rashmi and Mer a bit better. I think Rashmi ends up getting the best development and their relationship helps Anna reevaluate a lot of how she perceives others.

The problem is, though, that, in a romance, you’re pretty much sunk if you don’t ship the ship. Thankfully, I don’t quite unship the ship. For a while, I was walking up to board. I had my ticket purchased and my bags packed, ready to depart. Unfortunately, I got about three steps onboard, realized I didn’t like where it was headed and ran back off. This metaphor may have gotten out of my control a bit.

What you need to understand about me is that I tend to have a very black and white sense of justice. I’m a bit like Darcy: “my good opinion once lost is lost forever.” Actually, like him, that’s not entirely true, but it is difficult to convince me to change my mind. My problems lie almost entirely with the character of St. Clair. I’ve tried to forgive him because he’s young and stupid, which is true, and because it’s believable, but I can’t. The last two chapters completely sealed me not wanting these characters to get together or at least not feeling happy that they are together.

Anna and the French Kiss takes place over the course of almost a complete school year. During almost that entire time, St. Clair has a girlfriend called Ellie, who’s off at uni nearby. He spends the whole year alternately ignoring all of his friends and hanging out with Ellie or ignoring Ellie and hanging out with his friends, which also includes flirting with Anna. The flirting initially is mild, just some casual but intentional leg brushes, which is okay I guess. What bothered me from the start was the way that St. Clair would flip flop from friends to girlfriend, blowing off one then the other, like he can’t be a good boyfriend and a good friend at one time; it’s or the other. When he’s actually there, he’s great and so is the banter, but he’s not dependable.

I’d be warned about the cheating thing and, honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I expected in some ways. If the reactions to it had been different, I actually wouldn’t have been bothered so much by this particular scenario. Of course, it’s all gray areas with what counts as actually cheating and blah blah blah, but using the most common definition, St. Clair doesn’t behave too badly. View Spoiler » That I could live with if St. Clair was really incredibly apologetic, which he sort of was but also wasn’t. I’ll move into spoiler tags now for safety. Whether you’re venturing there or not, here’s my song for St. Clair:

View Spoiler »

So yeah, that didn’t really turn out like anybody hoped. There are lots of good things about it, but I also have many non-happy feelings about one of the most loved YA guys. I has a sad.

Favorite Quote:

“A moment of reserve. “That was it? The whole story?”

“Yes. God, you’re right. That was pants.”

I sidestep another aggressive couscous vendor. “Pants?”

“Rubbish. Crap. Shite.”

Pants. Oh heavens, that’s cute.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif if i choose one i lose vampire diaries
St. Clair = Elena

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26 responses to “Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #79: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins”

  1. Angie F. says:

    I’m planning on rereading this one before getting to Isla, and I think my feelings are going to end up a bit like yours. I really liked it when I first read it, but this was also my first YA Contemp, so I hadn’t developed my feelings on the genre yet. I remember it being really cute, but I was annoyed with Anna and Etienne at times. Other than that, I don’t remember much, so definitely time for a reread.

    And, I’ve never had a panini before. Although they look delicious. So I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch that Anna had never had one.
    Angie F. recently posted…Review: Blood, Smoke and Mirrors (Bad Witch, #1) by Robyn BacharMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      It was definitely cute most of the time. I even thought I’d love it for a while there, but the ending really didn’t resolve things in a way I was comfortable with. I hope you still like it on the reread!

      It’s not so much that she’d never had one, but that they were utterly foreign to her. But maybe it’s not weird. I don’t know. If she were from somewhere more rural, I wouldn’t question it, but she’s from my area!

  2. I’m actually really tempted to reread Anna now. I was so blinded by the cute the first time. I think I would react in much the same way as you this time. Ehhh let’s see if I ever have the time for a reread though, HA. x_x

    Anywayyyy I don’t blame you for not completely loving this. St. Clair is a douche.
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    • Christina Franke says:

      I would so be curious to hear how that went for you. I totally get falling for the cute the first time, because I even shipped them in the middle, despite being annoyed by St. Clair. It was just how much it wasn’t an issue in the end and him blaming her that I could not deal with. Douche for sure.

  3. Shannelle says:

    When asked about Anna, my first reaction will always be that I loved it, but I do feel uneasy about all the little things. It’s always possible in real life, but it was a mess. And to begin with, I don’t approve of cheating, and so my love for it isn’t really on stable footing. I mean, come on, how could I resist all that romantic cuteness?

    Though yes, I also did find some of Anna’s ignorance of French a little too exaggerated. I may have never tried a lot of French food (they’re so expensive in the Philippines!) but I do know macarons, and I definitely know oui. Those are basic things that anyone in the world must know.

    But yeah, I still love the book anyway, and I definitely also loved Lola! There are so many lovely quotes from that book.
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    • Christina Franke says:

      Yeah, I did fall for it for a while. Though I never approved of St. Clair’s antics, their Christmas emails were SO cute and he seemed to be suffering so much. It was just the denouement that I couldn’t deal with at all.

      Yeah, I also questioned all of that. I think I learned “oui” as a tiny child, though macarons I learned about sometime in college actually and I’ve still never tried one. If it was one thing, sure, but she knew basically nothing about France, which is weird to me. Did she never watch any movies with scenes in France or anything?

      I hope Lola is more my speed!

  4. Meg says:

    OH MY KANYE ST CLAIR IS TOTALLY ELENA YOU GENIUS PERSON.

    I totally and completely understand and agree with all of your points about St. Clair and yet somehow do not care. I don’t get it. I’ve tried analyzing it and have gotten nowhere. Gillian’s right, Stephanie Perkins is some kind of wizard.

    I’m sorry the romantical bits didn’t work out for you and hope you continue (I stand by my I-think-Isla-will-be-your-fav statement, but there’s good stuff in Lola) (like Cricket) (and Lola’s dads) (and Lola, though she has some moments of GIRL PLEASE) (but I mean, don’t we all?)

    • Christina Franke says:

      HE IS. YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE, OKAY.

      I mean, she made me ship it for a bit (hello, Christmas emails), even though I already didn’t super like St. Clair. But he was suffering and I thought maybe he felt really bad and would be super apologetic and young and okay. But then not so much. So I get the wizardry of the ship. I just don’t get the people who think he’s the ideal guy. BUT WHATEVER. I’ll just sit over here with Ignifex who is totally not ideal either but I ship that like burning so whatever whatever feels do what feels want.

      I also think Isla will be my favorite. I hope I can find at least one of those to love. It seems possible. I mean, it was just that I felt like every one, author included, went so easy on cheating. The characters were believable and I liked the writing, and the ship was even okay most of the time. THERE IS PROMISE, HERE.

  5. I can understand where you issues are regarding St. Clair. I tend to be very black and white, too, when it comes to Cheating. And although I didn’t like that St. Clair didn’t break up with Ellie earlier, or to distance himself mroe from Anna, I did feel like it wasn’t his normal way. I mean, I don’t think he is someone who would normally cheat.

    Also, I love your Darcy reference!!
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    • Christina Franke says:

      For me, it didn’t feel like he enjoyed cheating, but I also don’t know that he would really do it any differently. He seems to have serious issues with being single and also like he would choose cheating over having to be single for a period in between relationships.

      Then again, he’s from Perkins’ head, so she’s the only one who would really know!

      Thanks. All Darcy references are good references.

  6. Yeah I’d been warned about the cheating bit too and how it was poorly handled (on his part) and that kind of makes me judge him before even starting. Which is never good. SO maybe I’ll wait until the time is right for that one because I can’t but feel that I’d be of the same opinion as you.
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    • Christina Franke says:

      Um yeah. If you’re picky about cheating plots, it will probably be tough. Though he did manage to charm some people who hate that, so maybe if you grab it at the right time, he’ll charm the pants off you too!

  7. Brandy says:

    I AM NO LONGER ALONE IN THE WORLD!!! Thank you, Christina. I felt this same way when it first came out and I felt betrayed by the hype. It’s cute and an enjoyable afternoon’s read, but I did not fall madly in love with it, and most especially not with St. Clair. He bothers me in Lola too. I did like Lola better overall and I really hope to like Isla because I loved both her and Josh in this. I am in no way a crazed fan of this series though. I haven’t even picked up my copy of Isla from the library yet. The hold came in on Thursday and Wednesday is our usual library day. So then. I also have Fiendish waiting for me and that may win the battle of what to read first. Depends on what I’m in the mood for that day.
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    • Christina Franke says:

      Everyone is coming out of the woodwork and finding me. I felt very alone when I finished. All the reviews were talking about how he was the best part, when he’s literally the only part I didn’t like. He gets a one star from me. I’m pretty sure Isla will be my favorite of the books. Lola’s my next free read, but I’ll have some time until then so hopefully I can go in a relatively clean slate. Fiendish is a very different sort of book, so yeah def a mood thing.

  8. Susan says:

    Oh Thank God! Someone else who doesn’t get the big deal with this book or St. Clair! Ugh @ him and Ugh @ their “relationship”.

  9. Rhea says:

    I absolutely hated these two! Although I LOVED the Darcy references!
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  10. Oh goodness. I’m glad I read this review ahead of time, and I’m glad for those spoilers, because WHAT?! WHAT?!?!? No.
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  11. Heather says:

    I’m sorry this one didn’t work as well for you, but I definitely understand your points. It’s been awhile since I’ve read this, but I think the big thing you pointed out is what bothered me, too, though it didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the book. It was just so cute and fluffy and awww.

    I just got Isla from work (first checkout…yes!), so I’m excited to read that, too. I liked Lola, but I definitely preferred the first book, and I’m super hoping I like Isla the best of the three. I hope you like Perkins’ subsequent books better 🙂

    • Christina Franke says:

      That’s okay. I was totally going to read this eventually anyway. I still really hope too like her other stuff. I think I’ll probably like Lola a bit better than Anna and Isla best of all. I AM HOPING.

  12. Ashley says:

    I COMPLETELY agree! I hated how he was so insecure and just didn’t want to be single. I hated how he refused to break up with his girlfriend even though he obviously liked another girl more. I hated him! UGH!

    I even started to dislike Anna towards the end of the book. I hated that part where Amanda called someone a dyke and Anna refused to tell on her because she “hates that word”. If she hates the word why can’t she get a person in trouble for using it? So Amanda got off free while Anna got detention. WHERE IS THE LOGIC IN THAT??? I seriously just didn’t get it.

    But yeah, I feel like this could COULD have been good, but St. Clair and his attitude just ruined it. I do think I will read Isla though because I didn’t dislike the author’s writing style or anything. There were definitely some good elements of the story, I just think this character was horrible. 🙁
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    • Christina Franke says:

      It’s just that, okay, being in a relationship is a lot more comfortable for some people, but being single will not kill you. It won’t even mean he has to give up getting laid, because he’s a cute guy and he could manage that. And, maybe I could have handled that if he didn’t claim to have been in love with her for ages, but YOU LOVE HER AND WILL NOT RISK BEING SINGLE ARE YOU KIDDING?

      Eh, I like Anna okay, but I never bonded with her and she definitely never absorbed me into the story. She was a character, rather than a person to me. I wish she’d told on the girl too, but I’m also okay with her decision not to repeat the slur, especially in front of others. With just the RA, I don’t get it as much and she could at least be like “she called her a derisive term for a lesbian,” and still get the point across.

      Isla is the one I’m most sure I’m going to like. Lola seems to be a lot more over the map on whether people like it and apparently has more infidelity themes, though hopefully ones that involve more learning therefrom. But yeah, St. Clair. Not a fan.

  13. Lyn Kaye says:

    I am reading this right now for FF. I am not impressed at all. It is basically “How I Hooked Up with X Hottie” and the rest of the storyline can just go to hell in the name of LOVE.
    Bleh.
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