Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss

Perkins, Stephanie
1 star = Yuck!

Anna and the French Kiss is supposed to be a sweet teen love story, following Anna, a senior in high school who suddenly gets sent to a foreign school in Paris. While I could see what Perkins was going for, the whole "teen cliche love story" was not executed well. For one, Anna is far from a likable protagonist. Although having dreams to be a professional female film critic, when Anna is forced to attend school in France, she claims that she is shocked when she discovers that movie theatres exist in France. It's hard to believe that an avid film watcher is so ignorant of the fact that other countries besides America also have movie theatres. Not to mention that France is one of the major film capitals of the world. Anna continues displaying an almost disbelieving amount of ignorance when she also avoids her school's cafeteria because she doesn't know how to order food in french. Later, she is told that the school's chef does indeed know how to speak English, and that one doesn't have to be fluent in French to speak to him. Anna also is unaware that in France, most people have a basic grasp of the English language, and thinks that nobody knows how to speak English, thus convincing herself that she must learn French. Anna is almost too oblivious of the world outside her to be believable, but over and over again, Anna continues to dumbfound readers by displaying more and more ignorant thoughts and behaviors. Adding on, Anna's love interest is also far from a likable character. Etienne St. Clair (a name that might be too overboardly french to be true), is a boy who conveniently has a British accent, but is also somehow French and American, all at the same time. It's almost like Perkins wanted Etienne to be French and American, but also to have the typical British accent that every teen fiction love interest must have all at once, thus resulting in the confusing cliche mess that Etienne is.
Lastly, Anna and the French Kiss, while containing problematic characters, also contains problematic behaviors, such as the romanticization of cheating and an absurdly ignorant and offensive main character. While I understand the route Perkins may have intended to take, Anna and the French Kiss was far from a cheesy and sweet romance novel.

Reviewer Grade: 11

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