Anna and the French Kiss — Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

TITLE: Anna and the French Kiss
AUTHOR: Stephanie Perkins
RELEASED: December 2nd, 2010; Speak
GENRE: Contemporary
AGE RANGE: YA

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Anna never wanted to spend her senior year in Paris. Maybe it would’ve been a dream for most American girls, but for Anna, she wanted to spend her last year of high school in Atlanta, with her best friend and new romantic interest. How’s she supposed to spend an entire year in a French boarding school surrounded by people she’s never met—and a cute boy with a girlfriend?

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Before I get into this review, I feel like this is one of those books that is so widely loved that I should offer a disclaimer: please, know that just because this story didn’t work for me, does not mean that I am insulting the bookish taste of anyone who loves this book/series. Now that that’s out of the way… I have a lot of feelings about Anna and the French Kiss.

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“Boys turns girls into such idiots.”

First, let’s talk about the positives. The writing in this book is fun and it flies by in a breeze; I mentioned this when I reviewed There’s Someone Inside Your House, but I think Stephanie Perkins is just such a fun storyteller and I find it so easy to get sucked into her stories and to find myself rooting for the relationships she crafts, because they seem to follow this track record of combining just the right amount of angst with a lot of cuteness and chemistry.

“French name, English accent, American school. Anna confused.”

I also loved the setting of the story! I’m a sucker for boarding school settings (blame my growing up in the HP fandom, what can I say?), and I liked the idea of this whole girl-gone-abroad ordeal. I was also initially sucked into the romance between Anna and St. Clair; they had killer chemistry from the start, and I won’t lie, I wanted to root for them a little, even though something about their relationship didn’t set well with me the whole time (besides the obvious of, you know, months of emotional and sometimes physical cheating).

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“I love you as certain dark things are loved, secretly, between the shadow and the soul.”

The further away from reading it I got, and the more I discussed it with others, the more I realized that I couldn’t really approve of the messages in this book. After watching this video review (which sums up all of my issues and then some, while being way more entertaining than I ever could be), I felt so validated in my concerns that I lowered my rating to 2 stars. Below, I’m just going to run through a quick list of things I struggled with:

  • the cheating: holy shmoly, the romanticization of emotional and physical infidelity is strong here
  • victim-blaming: Ellie, St. Clair’s girlfriend, isn’t the nicest person, but she still doesn’t deserve to be cheated on; somehow, though, the book manages to vilify her so thoroughly that Anna at one point literally even fantasizes about brutally attacking Ellie just to get her out of the picture
  • girl-on-girl hate/drama: seriously, Anna is determined to hate and/or treat poorly every girl she meets. Ellie is the wicked girlfriend, her best friend from Atlanta dates a boy Anna was interested in but never established anything “real” with (and sorry honey, you were in another continent for a year—girl code only goes so far in this scenario!), her best friend in France is also in love with St. Clair and it becomes soooo much unnecessary drama and toxicity… I could go on, but I won’t.
  • slut-shaming: because Anna feels the need to comment on every single revealing outfit she sees, especially when it’s Ellie wearing a—gasp!—revealing Halloween costume.
  • St. Clair’s wishy-washy asshole tendencies: because honestly, he might be cute and Ameri-brit-frenchish, but Ellie isn’t the only lady he treats like garbage. He is super obviously into Anna for ages, but strings her along because he’s too scared to end his current relationship, and frankly, his refusal to commit to either of them should have left him empty-handed if this were the real world.
  • Anna’s attempts at forcing jealousy: Anna literally dates another boy, who she has no interest in and doesn’t even want to spend time with, JUST in hopes of making St. Clair jealous. Letting the object of your affections see you flirt with someone else to get a rise out of them is a trope as old as time, but she legitimately strings this poor child along for a fair amount of time, which makes her just as gross as St. Clair is.

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I feel like I’m forgetting things and this is one of those reviews that I should’ve written as soon as I finished the book, but alas, this thing is already long enough as it is. The only reason I’m giving it 2 stars instead of 1 is because, as I mentioned earlier in the review, Stephanie’s writing voice itself is fun and breezy. There’s a definite reason behind the fact that so many people had similar situations to myself, wherein they were having fun (albeit perhaps feeling uncomfortable) while reading this book, but after putting it down, began to feel very angry or disappointed.

Will I read more by Stephanie Perkins? Yeah, honestly, I will—I liked her latest release a lot and I think she’s probably grown tremendously as an author since this story first released. That said, this book is going in my unhaul pile.

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Frankly, I don’t recommend this book to anyone at all unless you are:
1. a tremendous lover of fluffy contemporary reads
2. old enough to know better than to see this as any semblance of a healthy relationship
3. completely unbothered by teens cheating and being generally awful to one another

2stars

Buddy read with Reg!

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Just a 26-year-old trying to juggle motherhood, grad school, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

27 thoughts on “Anna and the French Kiss — Stephanie Perkins

  1. This is such a great review!!!! When I first read this book, I loved it and didn’t have any major issues with it. Then I watched a bunch of reviews and realised how shitty it was. I still love it and reread it all the time when I need some fluff, but I definitely acknowledge all the slut-shaming, girl-on-girl hate, victim blaming, cheating, etc. I think it’s too bad because it *could* be a great, fluffy read without all those things

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  2. Haha, Lily’s rant review is what made me decide *not* to pick up this book. If I hadn’t seen her video about it, I probably would have bought a copy eventually because of the French setting alone, so I’m glad I get to save my money instead lol.

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  3. I’m not usually bothered by teen cheating but it definitely bothered me in this book. Everything about Anna and St. Clair’s relationship just felt super problematic to me, probably because, as you pointed out in your review, they treated everyone else like crap while they were starting to get into each other. I also totally agree that there was a lot of girl drama and girl/girl hate in this book, which I was super not a fan of. I’m glad I’m not the only person in the book blogging community who wasn’t on board with this book. Great review!

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    1. Thank you, love! Yes to all of this that you said. Like you, cheating is not usually a huge deal-breaker for me in books—I’ve honestly even read a few books where I was like, “Okay, this isn’t the *best* way you could have gone about this, but I can see how it reached this point”—but on top of everything else it was just too much YIKES in this book lmao.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you! I’ve seen so many rave reviews for this one, and I’ve never quite understood the appeal. To be fair, I haven’t read it so I can’t really judge, but a story entirely based around cheating just doesn’t seem appealing to me as a romance.

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  5. Holy smokes. And this was on my “want to read” on Goodreads.

    Actually, it still is but.. because I feel like I would enjoy reading it and then even enjoy having issues with it? :’) I don’t even know how to explain myself right now [maybe I should blame the pregnancy] but I seriously think I might enjoy it, even though there are obviously some HUGE issues. Maybe because of them? I don’t know. Lately I’m having this thing where I enjoy reading the book and then enjoy the rant I can have over it or something.
    I’m being weird.

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    1. Oh, it’s totally one you could have fun “hate-reading” tbh because it moves fast, and the plot is still fluffy and FUN, but at the same time, it evokes so much RAGE. 😂 But don’t worry, I know what you mean. I honestly love writing up a good rant review from time to time and getting some stress out.

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  6. Great review, Destiny! This is a book that I’ve always contemplated reading, but I don’t approve of any of those messages at all! The girl on girl hate, cheating, slut shaming, and asshole-y male love interest sounds awful! Thank you for saving me from reading this one, Destiny! 💗

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  7. Great review! I really disliked this book’s message – so much so I gave it one star and never looked back. I can see why people enjoyed it, but it triggered really negative emotions in me. She DID do a great job describing Paris, though.

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    1. Thank you, Leigha! I totally don’t blame you, it was a really rough read. You’re right, though, that is one thing she did a great job with! Her writing is so enjoyable that if it weren’t for all of the gross parts, I think this book could’ve been amazing for me!

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  8. Hmm, yeah no thanks. I can definitely see how this could work for some people if they can work past the things you mentioned, but a lot of these are dealbreakers for me and a guarantee that I won’t enjoy this. Thanks for the warning!

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