Thursday, March 31, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss Review

     Remember how it felt to be young and have a crush on someone? It was awkward, lonely, embarrassing, wonderful, exhilarating, amazing. That's how this book feels. This book makes you have a teen crush on it.
      Don't read it if you have something you need to get done in the next few days. It's best read in a short period of time or all at once if you can manage. And once it's over you don't want it to be. You want the story to keep going because you actually fall in love with the characters. The characters become your best friends. And the same way you felt about the people you really liked in high school (friends and crushes) is the way you feel about the people in the book. You want to spend all of your time with them and don't want to be apart. It takes immense skill to write this way. Stephanie Perkins creates a book that is funny, thought-provoking, and emotional. This book actually feels like adolescence.
      Most of the credit for that goes to the narrator and main character of the book, Anna. Anna is an American teenager who goes to boarding school in Paris for her senior year. She makes new friends, falls in love, and learns a lot about herself. Pretty standard stuff. But Anna and the other characters are so interesting and real that nothing about the book feels cliche. Anna is 100% relatable. She feels like a sister, like a best friend, like yourself.
     When I was a teenager I read a lot of Meg Cabot and Ann Brashares. Those authors knew how to make strong female characters. Maureen Johnson is another example of an author who knows how to make good characters. Anna is the type of person that young girls should be reading about. She is cool, funny, smart, and interesting. She has interests, hopes, goals and dreams. She has flaws. She gets confused and makes mistakes. She hurts and betrays her friends. She has to deal with problems. A direct quote from the book is "Boys make girls so stupid" Anna realizes this about herself when she contemplates not learning French so her crush can help her more. One of the most compelling and relatable aspects of Anna's character is that she is not totally happy to be living in Paris. She just wants to be at home with her mom, her little brother, her best friend, and her part time job at the movie theatre. Anna feels like a real person and that is why the reader becomes so invested in the story and what will happen to her.
I noticed a lot of similarities to the plot of Looking for Alaska by John Green. If you haven't read it, I will try not to spoil it. You should read it. It is good.

Formula of LfA:
(Pudge) goes away to (Alabama) for boarding school. Meets (The Colonel.) Meets and falls for (Alaska). Spends school year trying to tear (Alaska) away from (her boyfriend.) Realizes something important about relationships in the end.

Formula of AatFK:
(Anna) goes away to (Paris) for boarding school. Meets (Mer.) Meets and falls for (St. Clair). Spends school year trying to tear (St. Clair) away from (his girlfriend.) Realizes something important about relationships in the end.

     However, there are a couple of important differences. 1.) the ending. the books have completely different messages in the end, the characters learn different things about themselves by going away and meeting new people who change their outlooks. and 2.) the central relationship. While Pudge spends the novel misunderstanding Alaska (something John Green dealt with in his third novel Paper Towns about how we misconceptualize people, especially if we like them) Anna and St. Clair have a real relationship. They understand each other mutually and know each other very well and the reader feels like the version of St. Clair we are reading isn't oversexualized or exaggerated in any way, because St. Clair has flaws too and he screws up and hurts people as much as Anna does.

What I love about this book is that none of the characters are perfect. I think it's a healthy presentation of teenage relationships. It's a great book and I recommend it to all of you.

Also, it started out as a NaNoWriMo novel so how cool is that?

I don't have a rating system but I really liked the book so you should read it.

Click on the book to buy it!

anna french kiss

Books Read So Far: 8
Currently Reading: Still haven't finished that transcript. Also reading The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan.

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