Review of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins
FACTS ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
BACK OF THE BOOK
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?This book is about 17 years old Anna, who has to move from Atlanta to Paris because her Dad makes her go to school there. Anna really doesn't want to go; but it doesn't take her long to make friends at her new school. She discovers both Paris and the French language with her new friends. She feels especially drawn to her new male friend Étienne St.Clair, who does not only look incredibly handsome but also has the irresistable British accent that just makes all the girls in the school drool. Anna grows closer and closer to him but always stops before the wall that is St.Clair's girlfriend.
What I Liked About It
I like the French in this book. The way that Paris and the French language are a part of this book was really enjoyable for me. Although there could have been even more French words in it, I still smiled at every one that was inside of it. It was also great to read about some of the signs in Paris, although they could have been mentioned in even more detail, in my opinion.
I could very much relate to Anna's passion for movies and loved that she also went to the cinema on her own. Her aspiring to become a film critic felt fresh to read about and was quite interesting. But I wish the book had explored her passion for film even a bit more. It would have functioned as a nice balance if it had been given more space in the story.
The fact that STAR WARS was mentioned quite often throughout the story was really great. Such references always make a book better for me.
I read the whole book in three days, which makes it a very quick read for me. It was definitely a light and quick book.
What I Disliked About ItUnforunately, there is quite a lot more of what I didn't like than of what I liked in this book. That itself was very disappointing for me because this book got and still gets hyped a lot. (Which I really don't understand at all after reading it.)
It took me quite a while to get into the story, which I halfly blame on the author's writing style. I was often confused as to who said what and where the characters were. Some conversations quickly became hard to understand because I had to trace back to who said what since it wasn't written clearly. I often caught myself not knowing where the characters actually were at in a situation because they had just changed their setting within a paragraph, mostly in a short sentence that I just overread. I got confused a few times when their action didn't match with where I thought them to be. And since I normally don't have that problem, I blame it on the writing style.
Sadly, this story is very cliche. I just can't stand reading about another self-conscious girl falling for "the most beautiful boy on the planet, who also happens to have an irresistable British accent". *rolling my eyes for the first time*
It just reads itself disappointing to me when someone gets described as so perfectly looking. It sort of builds a fence that stops me from relating to the described character and also to the character that describes. Maybe it also disappointed me that much because I had just read FANGIRL before. (click here to read my review of it) And in FANGIRL the male love interest wasn't described as perfectly beautiful but was admitted to have flaws. That made him so much more attractive to me than this "is he described hot enough" male interest in this one. (And what really saddend me was that the author herself actually wrote that in her Acknowledgements: she asked others if the boy was already hot enough. *eye roll number 2*) That stuff just doesn't get me. I don't want a male interest to be the hottest ever through all the "hot boy cliches" that there are. I want someone with an irresistable character. And although St. Clair had a bit uniqueness, it was far too less because it was always overshone by his extreme beauty. *eye roll number 3*
I absolutely didn't like that Anna, the protagonist, made herself small and that she felt like she was the worst at everything (until some cute boy told her otherwise). She had so much self-doubt and insecurities, which I really found disappointing. I want to read about strong female characters that aren't in need of a boy to "save" them. And if a female character has insecurities I want them to grow stronger throughout the story and develop and learn to appreciate themselves more. And if a female character falls in love, I want them to acknowledge the flaws in the other person aswell. And most importanly, I want them to not be in need of a relationship just for the sake of having someone around them.
Anna didn't give me the feeling of being confident or of growing more confident throughout the novel at all. Unfortunately, such low self-esteem female characters are probably more relatable to young readers. I just find it problematic that values like "I'm only valuable if a cute boy says so" and "A cute boy can get away with anything if he just smiles at me" get send out to young, insecure female readers that accept them to be true.
It was really sad how low Anna's self-esteem was. She felt somehow dumb to me at times when she freaked out again that a boy called her any positive adjective really, mostly concerning her physical appearance. It would be so much more important for her to learn to love and appreciate herself. Then she wouldn't nearly faint whenever someone called her beautiful.
It's not that I didn't like her at all, I just wanted to shake her at times and tell her to work on her selflove and self-confidence.
I never liked it when characters get called by their last name only in stories. For most of the book, that was the case with the male interest, St. Clair. I read books before in which that was the case and I always found it weird. I also don't like it when someone calls a friend only by their last name in real life.
The fact that the male interest, St. Clair, has a girlfriend throughout such a majority of the book, bothered me a lot. Although I am not too sure what to think about monogamous relationships in general, I didn't like it at all. If you read a book that is written under the assumptions of all characters only being interested in monogamous relationships, it just feels so wrong for St. Clair to keep his girlfriend that long. That fact made it nearly impossible for me to like St. Clair or to find him attractive in any way. I don't care if the boy is the hottest thing on Earth, if he chooses to keep his girlfriend while crushing openly on another, it simply makes him an asshole.
I could understand Anna's problematic situation for most of the book and could understand how she felt since she explained it quite well. But I still think that she shouldn't let herself get treated like this by that boy. She should say to him: "If you want to do certain things with me, please break up with your girlfriend first." It felt wrong to me.
I find St. Clair's behaviour absolutely shitty and unfair and it kept me from liking him throughout the whole book.
It felt so fake how St. Clair always obviously got jealous of Anna meeting/speaking to anyone male but still kept his girlfriend throughout the whole time. It was sort of romanticised and never said to be controlling and wrong. He wants to control her life and sort of have her as his property but doesn't want to give up his girlfriend for her. HOW CAN YOU ROMANTICISE THIS BOY?!
As the story grows, I also found Anna to become quite hypocrite in her behaviour. She basically gets mad at someone for doing the same thing that she's been doing the whole time.
I wish Anna would have spend more time by herself. It would have been healthy for her and interesting for me to indulge more into her movie passion.
It shocked me how violent Anna thought about "the girl in her way". And I hate how she solely hates her instead of blaming St. Clair for his unfair behaviour. I really don't like the portrayal of women hating each other while glorifying the boy (who doesn't deserve it). It's, unfortunately, such a popular thing, that must be stopped. It's understandable that Anna doesn't like her, but her revengeful thoughts are way too extreme and concerningly shocking.
Since this book is so hyped and loved by so many, I'd expected much more of it and was very disappointed by it. I expected a special story and not one that every other Young Adult novel consists of. And although it's always better to enjoy a book, I can't really understand why so many adore this one so much. It has too many problematic things in it, in my opinion.
I am quite disappointed that stories like these still find such a huge audience because it can basically be summed up by "insecure girl wants to be saved by an incredibly handsome boy (who also, just by cliche, happens to be British)" *eye rolling intensifies*
I, fortunately, haven't read these kinds of books in quite a while now, and really want to stay away from them from now on. Therefore I also feel no motivation whatsoever to read the other books by Stephanie Perkins.
I rolled my eyes so often at Anna; she seemed so dumb when she constantely thought that St. Clair hated her and was then sooooo surprised when someone told her the opposite or when St. Clair smiled at her (like he might actually like her?!!?!?! *eye rolling number I-can't-count-no-more*)
Anna was so dependend on boys' approval, it was exhausting, sad and annoying.