October 18, 2011

Swoon over Anna and the French Kiss

See, isn't she adorable?
I heard Stephanie Perkins speak at the Decatur Book Festival. I was at the panel to see Elizabeth Eulberg, but I enjoyed hearing Perkins as well. She was so adorable, and I was in love with her stockings.  

For this panel it seemed everyone was there to meet her, so I decided that as a future teen librarian it was important that I read her books. After all, it is my responsibility to know what's "hot," right? At least, that is always my justification when I abuse, I mean use, my husband's B&N employee discount. 

I am so glad that I took the time to see what all the fuss was about. The moment I finished the book I knew exactly which students would appreciate Perkins' storytelling.

Summary (from Goodreads):

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. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near - misses end with the French kiss Anna - and readers - have long awaited?

My thoughts:

"I wish for the thing that is best for me."

It is moments like the one above that make me fall in love with this book. To say that Perkins is talented at writing about first true love is an understatement. She captures the feelings, the doubts, the fears with such care and consideration that readers will long feel satisfied, even after they have placed the novel on their shelves.

Anna is a solid character. While I found myself frustrated with her throughout, it was also important to remember that she was a senior in high school. I teach juniors and seniors, and thus have a front row seat to their thoughts, feelings, rationales. Perkins is dead on with all of those in this novel.

Her character development is strong - providing not only a main protagonist but also a cast of supporting characters that lead Anna on her journey of self-discovery and of first love. Etienne St. Clair develops as the perfect foil for Anna. Meredith, Rashmi, and Josh round out the friendship circle, providing readers with a tight nit group of friends to accept Anna into her new school and her new life in Paris, if only for a year. And of course this cannot be a true high school novel without the queen bee "mean girl" Amanda. Her character made me wonder how many Perkins encountered in high school because she was spot on with her. Actually, she was spot on with all of her characters.

The pacing of the novel is also nicely done. Sometimes in novels like this readers are thrust into elements that are not necessary for moving the plot (or the characters) forward. This was not the case with this novel. Every element was working towards the novel's conclusion. 

While there were elements that were predictable, it was still enjoyable. To say that I loved every page is an understatement, and Perkins has won me as a loyal reader of her work. It is refreshing to pick up a novel and know that no matter what,  I will have warm fuzzies at the end.

I wonder how many teens this book will inspire to look into attending school in Paris so they too can not only find themselves but also find true love?

Why should you read this book? 

The answer is simple - this is what love is about. This is how love should be. This is what should have happened to me while I was at boarding school in Paris. Okay, maybe that part is not true, but the rest is. You should read this book because it is a great story with a hot male character. No seriously, where was St. Clair when I was in high school? Guys were never that hot. They were too busy being guys. Not that St. Clair isn't a guy; he is. He is just a hot one. An "out of my league" sort of guy. Okay, he's not even real. I get it; he is a character. But he is still hot. Did I mention you should read this book because there is a hot guy in it? Swoon!

On a side note: I used this novel as a reward for completing tasks from my "to do" list. I am on fall break, but there are still things I need to accomplish. I was so grateful to finish today's task because I sat in my big, comfy chair at 11 AM and did not get up until I finished this book at 4:30 - I enjoyed it that much. So if you feel as if you just do not have time to read this book (or any book), use chapters as rewards. That is what I did, and it worked wonderfully. I ended up finishing my tasks faster because I was ready to jump back into Anna's world.

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