Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near - misses end with the French kiss Anna - and readers - have long awaited?
Hardcover, 372 pages
Published December 2nd 2010 by Dutton
What I Liked:
- Anna, she is a character that is easy to relate to. Her constant chatter is witty and funny, yet it is realistic. You experience the terror, loneliness and the language barrier that Anna endures during her first few weeks in Paris. You feel her awkwardness and shyness as you see her blunder and bumble. As she struggles you watch her transform and you cheer her on as she follows her heart. Anna is so well written that she seems like a long, lost friend. She is a remarkable, literary creation.
- Etienne St. Clair. Of course many girls out there will lose their hearts to him. I like that he is real and vulnerable; especially when his fear of heights is exposed. He is friendly, charming and nice. I admire the way he suffers under the strain of some difficult challenges and learns to overcome them.
- The friendship between Anna and Etienne. This is the aspect that I enjoyed the most. Ms. Perkins manages to capture all the emotions, angst and drama that go into the creation of a fledgling romance. There is the building up of a perfect, relaxed and comfortable friendship, that fits like a well worn pair of shoes. Then when feelings begin to swirl toward intimacy you feel the awkwardness, timidity and hesitancy to progress the friendship to a romantic level. The author conveys this through a simple touch, a brush of a leg, a look and the second guessing. The relationship builds slow and steady, on occasion it stutters but it continually pulls you toward the ultimate french kiss. When you finally reach this all important kiss (obviously this is not a spoiler since it is the title of the book) it is everything you expect it to be, tender, lovely and sweet. It will melt your heart and leave you grinning.
- The French setting. I admit I am among the countless other readers out there whose knowledge of Paris consists of the Eiffel Tower, french food, Notre Dame and it being the city of love. Anna grabbed my hand and took me through Paris. I loved being able to experience and see the sites of Paris through her eyes. I could almost smell and taste the delectable food. I came away with a new appreciation of Paris. I want to visit immediately.
- The book is predictable, especially since the title gives it away. You know when the relationship stumbles that it is still headed for the big, dramatic kiss but the fun part is relating to Anna as she matures and changes and you sigh when her wish comes true.
- The book moves slowly. Sometimes it is even frustrating. I was thinking okay wait for it, wait for it, is it now?...No! Drat...wait, wait.... and then bliss and happiness. Trust me be patient it is worth it in the end.
- The characters are real. They are warm, friendly and comfortable. You are included in Anna's circle of friends. My only regret was that I missed Meredith's voice. When she first appears I was drawn to her. As the story progresses she is absent a great deal of the time. It felt like she was in the background, I got to know Josh and Rashmi but I just got a glimpse of Meredith's character. I wanted her to participate more.
- The only hesitation for recommending this book for teens of all ages is there is some teenage drinking and bit of adult language. For the most part it is a charming story that readers of all ages will enjoy.
"It's true what they say about white sneakers. Only American tourists wear them, big ugly things made for mowing grass or painting houses."
"I see the hint of golden apple tarte tatins. The edge of a glossy chocolate-and-raspberry gateau."
"It shimmers with neat rows of square-shaped tarte citrons, spongy cakes swelling with molten chocolate, caramel eclairs like ballet slippers, and red fruity cakes with wild strawberries dusted in powdery sugar."
"Nah. You know how I feel about messes. They're ripe with such possibility."
"The moon is full and the lamps are on, and he talks until it's as if he weighs an entire person lighter."
"Home. How I could wish for it for so long, only to come back and find it gone. To be here, in my technical house, and discover that home is now someplace different."
"I suddenly understand why people describe kissing as melting because every inch of my body dissolves into his."