Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins is a YA romance set in Paris, France and although I don't normally read romances, this one was definitely worth branching out for. Normally I like to go into a bit more detail about the plot before I share my overall feeling about the book, but in this case, I feel my opinion says more than any summary ever could, because no matter how many times this book was recommended to me, simple recommendations could never do it justice. Perhaps the setup of the plot is too generic. Girl goes to Paris and finds love. That could be the description of a dozen books or movies, but this book truly is unique. I felt it was so much more than just a romance. I felt it was a coming-of-age story, it was a story about grief and cancer (that was an unpleasant surprise for me actually), it was a story about culture shock and new experiences, it was a story about French cuisine and it was a story about friendships and hypocrisy. As you read you become more familiar with French words, cuisine, customs, The School of America and lots of other uniquely French things. It almost feels like taking a trip there yourself for just a few thousand dollars less! I love my poor-girl vacations haha. The romance in this book was reminiscent of my feelings of new love as well and I loved the buildup throughout the book. Often in YA there isn't much of a foundation before, "true love," is declared, so it was really nice to enjoy the journey and the flirtation beforehand. I would recommend Anna and the French Kiss to any lovers of YA, romance, coming-of-age, France, foreign culture, travel or boarding school stories.
Favorite things: the French culture, the budding friendships and relationships that helped make this book exciting, the fully developed personalities of the characters, the character growth of Anna, one of my favorite male characters ever: Etienne St. Clair (who also has a cool combination of names as well), the interesting tidbits about the food and life in general in Paris, the journey to independence and confidence that is reminiscent of anyone's path to adulthood and the writing in general was poignant and beautiful: I had so much to quote!
Criticisms: I didn't really like the cover and the model isn't at all like my brain's vision of Anna, there was a little too much explanation about various words and such (at least for me) and I felt like I was being talked down to almost, I felt that Anna struggled to come to some pretty obvious conclusions for quite awhile which contradicted her otherwise intelligent personality and there was a character battling cancer in this book which didn't sit well with me due to my personal history (it made me rather sad, but that was my own problem and not really anything to do with the book).
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars! Read this one if you haven't yet, I really doubt you'll be disappointed, no matter your tastes!