Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wee, we, oui: Anna and the French Kiss

My amazing library has the first few Cybils YA fiction finalists available in the ebook side, so I've started with Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins.  It's a story of a girl sent away to boarding school for her senior year by her mean dad, whose meanness is a bit undercut by the location of the school -- Paris!  Poor Anna is dragged kicking and screaming from her Georgian life to an exclusive American school in the heart of gay Paree.  Actually, I did have sympathy -- the last year of high school is a hard time to switch schools, especially if the kid is given no choice or even a preference in the matter.

Some nice folks befriend her, and she settles in various ruts for her senior year, only to find herself ruthlessly tipped out of them in the second semester.  Communication is hard, and slamming up against secrets causes much amusing teen aged angst -- throwing a temper tantrum at a bowling alley when your maybe-boyfriend brags from the stage about his sexual antics with your best friend, who somehow forgot to mention this new development.  Or having a crush on a perfect boy who is sadly already taken, and missing connections with him through a variety of Magi Gift types of misunderstandings.

In general the beats of teenage romance felt absolutely true, although Etienne is perhaps a bit too wonderful.  Anna makes plausible mistakes but handles the stress of a completely unexpected year with incredible aplomb.  Since she tells the story in first person, we can see reasons for the missteps, and sympathize with the blunders that slow the path to true love.  At the end the two hearts beat as one, which admittedly left my stodgy old heart a bit concerned with how seriously these two rather emotionally immature teens are taking their romance.  I mean, even Bella Swan knew better than to get married right out of high school.

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