Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In some ways, the title could be a double entendre: there's Anna becoming comfortable in Paris, and Anna's first real kiss. This is for the Sarah Dessen crowd, which is nice because fans of this genre are always looking for new authors and romances.
Anna's the child of divorced parents; since the divorce, her father's become what seems to be a Nicholas Sparks-like author and his books not only sell millions of print copies they also sell at the box office. She's about to be a senior in high school, with a crush on Toph and a BFF (Bridge) to enjoy all those senior moments with... until her father decides to pack her off to the School of Americans in Paris (SOAP). Not quiet what Anna had in mind.
She arrives and immediately has problems: she doesn't speak the language, she's lonely, and she misses Bridge and Toph. Lucky for her, she lives next door to Mer, who introduces her to Josh, Rashmi and - most importantly - Etienne St. Cloud. Since SOAP's a small school, they spend a lot of time together and slowly Anna becomes comfortable with French, with life in Paris, and with her life away from her BFF. Even more slowly, she becomes friends with... and then possibly more than friends... with St. Cloud (who, of course, has a girlfriend). It all comes to a head during the Christmas Break, when Anna returns home for the vacation.
While the setting may be exotic, the story of a girl moving away from the things with which she's comfortable and making a new life for herself is a familiar one. The romance feels real, and you can understand Anna's changing feelings and confusion (and frustration) with her friends and St. Cloud.
ARC provided by publisher.
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