Anna's father sends her to Paris to spend her senior year of high school in boarding school. Now instead of romance with long-time crush Toph, Anna gets awkward international phone calls. Plus, her best friend is the one who gets to bond with her little brother. Lucky for Anna, she falls in with a group of artistic kids and becomes best friend with the charming and good looking Etienne St. Clair. The only problem is that Anna is falling in love with him and he's already in a serious relationship.
This book is compulsively readable. I hate going to bed not being in the middle of a book. So I started Anna and the French Kiss pretty late in the day. I basically had to force myself to put it down so that I would get some sleep for work the next day. One of the things I liked is that this book dealt with real issues. It wasn't the fluff that I expected. Anna and Etienne both struggled with their relationships with their families, they both had some pretty major shake ups, and they both supported each other as friends along the way.
I loved how even though they were attracted to each other from the very beginning, Anna and Etienne were friends first and slowly fell in love with each other. They both had flaws. They both had to get over them. And they both needed the other (not to be complete, but for support). With all the Bella-Edward fast forward romances I've been reading lately... Anna and Etienne's relationship was a wonderful relief.
Perkins handled so many things perfectly. The way it feels to go home after being away--spot on. You're excited because it's home, but you're nervous because you've changed and you wonder if you've been forgotten. Then you get home and you're happy, but you realize your place in the world is different and home isn't the place you imagined it to be for the last few months of your life. When I moved back to the States after a year in England, I had terrible culture shock and I have never read about it in a way that expressed what it feels like as well as in Anna and the French Kiss.
Also, with Etienne having a girlfriend for most of the story, Anna could have easily come off as a boyfriend stealing "other woman". Instead she was likeable--loveable--and you rooted for their relationship all the more because of how tricky the situation was.
The book is fun and charming. It's about a romance, an ordinary romance between ordinary people, if we get down to it. But it feels extraordinary. It feels epic. I was laughing and crying and desperately cheering the characters on. The companion novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door, is coming out soon (not soon enough!). I pre-ordered it after reading Anna even though I have banned myself from buying any more books.