I bought this book after seeing glowing reviews for it on tons of my favourite blogs and reading on Twitter than John Green was recommending it too. I then proceeded to put off reading it for several months as I thought it couldn't possibly be as good as everyone was saying, right? I WAS WRONG. This book is absolute perfection. I consumed is as quickly as I possibly could and haven't stopped thinking about it in the few days since, despite going on to read what seems like another great book.
In case anyone out there hasn't come across this book then here's a quick summary. Film geek Anna is forced by her super-tanned but not super-Dad Father to spend a year at school in Paris to broaden her horizons. Leaving everything she knows behind in Atlanta, including a possibly maybe romance, Anna goes to a country where she knows no-one and doesn't speak the language.
On her first night at school she is befriended by her next door neighbour and introduced to one of her friends, an English boy with the lyrical name of Etienne St. Clair. Anna's meeting and subsequent friendship with St. Clair forms the basis of the book and is a fantastically realised event. 'Anna and the French Kiss' isn't a plot-driven book and is all the better as a result. The development of the relationship between Anna and St. Clair progresses and evolves at a realistic pace and towards the end I was practically shouting at the characters to express their real feelings!
Anna is a great character and one I could really relate to. I love characters who are given a tangible personality and real interests and aren't just a series of physical attributes. Anna loves the movies and I loved reading the details about the films she sees and how Anna scribbles reviews in her notebook. I also love the 'Anna Banana' nickname, her obsessive cleanliness and Batman pyjamas... this is a girl after my own heart and one who feels noticeably real.
Now for St. Clair...well he's so perfectly written if there's any justice in the world he should immediately transcend to the top of the 'YA Hearthrobs' tree. Forget Edward Cullen this guy is a cupcake with sprinkles on top. He's funny, infuriating, loyal and loveable. He's the perfect best friend and possible boyfriend a girl could ask for, if only he'd just stand up and shout out his feelings.
I found much of the later part of 'Anna and the French Kiss' really touching, particularly when Anna describes a person rather than a place as home, I thought that was a really lovely sentiment. I also loved how Anna switched from calling her amour St. Clair to Etienne which not only has a noticeable effect on him but seems really intimate. I also found the way the relationship between them changes when St. Clair's Mom gets ill was really sweet, and although it's kind of inappropriate I loved his clandestine nights spent with Anna because he couldn't be alone.
In summary, this book is a treat of the highest order and will leave a smile on your face afterwards. The only things I even slightly less than loved about this book was the cover (which I find presents the book as rather cheesy and isn't how I imagine Anna would look at all) , and also the title for similar reasons. Those slight detractions aside if you love a believable romance that will leave your heart racing as well as making you laugh and cry then this is for you. I wholeheartedly LOVED it.