My first introduction to Stephanie Perkins was last years’ holiday anthology My True Love Gave To Me, which she both edited and contributed to. Her story, It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown was my favorite of the group and I find myself thinking of its characters, Marigold and North, every so often six months later. Her characters were vibrant and their dialogue rang true. It really was a lovely story and I’m hoping that her contribution to 2016’s Summer Days, Summer Nights is a continuation of that story. But I digress… my love of Perkins world building and characterization had me adding Anna and the French Kiss to my TBR for Cannonball 7 as soon as I finished it.
Anna and the French Kiss has a lot of the things that made me fall in love with It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown. Young protagonists who are fully fleshed out characters with witty dialogue – yes, please. But this one didn’t sing for me. In spending some time thinking about how to review this book, I think it comes down to just not being in the right head space for these characters. I was almost able to travel to Europe this summer, but I wasn’t able to make it work so reading the descriptions of Anna’s time in Paris was exhilarating while simultaneously heartbreaking for me. And the fact that she is there against her will and basically refuses to enjoy the city in the beginning of the novel made me so sad for the character. You have 9 months in Paris! Don’t waste it!!
The other problem is that I just don’t know that I’m really the type of person that wants to read about high school romances. College, for whatever reason, works just fine for me. But senior year of high school? It just didn’t sit well with me. There are two more books in this series, and at least one moves to the college level, so maybe I’ll pursue it, I’m just not sure at the moment.
Not to leave you on a down note there were things that worked really well with this book, which leave me giving it a 3.5 rating. To quote the lovely Rainbow Rowell from her Goodreads review of this book (because she nailed the idea I was trying to find words for and I’m all about letting the professional take over): “It actually tells the story it sets out to tell. I’m really starting to hate books — love stories, especially — that skim the surface of the story they’re supposed to tell. They just say, ‘So these two fell passionately’ in love, and you’re supposed to believe it. These characters actually talk to each other (which I loved) and get to know each other. They have friends and problems and a life that you feel like you understand.” The life that Perkins creates for her characters is rich and detailed and engrossing. You are with them at school, and in love, and in heartbreak. This is really something I try to be on the lookout for to distinguish good authors.
This book was read and reviewed as part of the charitable Cannonball Read.