It was one of those days that it was a universally acknowledged truth that I was being pathetic. I knew I needed a lift, so I picked up Anna and the French Kiss from my shelves. I was more than eager to live vicariously through fictional characters in a Young Adult romance, and I was ready to pull girls’ hairs to get to Etienne St. Clair. After all, I read rave reviews on Stephanie Perkins’s novel set in the most romantic city in the world, and I desperately wanted to be charmed by a story of young love. [The desperate might just be a sign that it was one of those days again.]
Funny story: While I was looking for a copy of this book, I was judged by the many bookstore salesladies I asked for a copy of Blah blah French Kiss.
So the premises have been laid: I was predisposed to like Anna and the French Kiss due to, ah, emotional distress and while I deal with my 16-year-old-woes, Etienne St. Claire was a very welcome distraction.
The boy was practically genetically or, erm, fictionally made to suit every girl’s fancy. He was part American, part French to account his pretty face, and part British. While reading the novel, I swear I read his lines in my imaginary, perfect British accent. And of course, he has to be a geek, witty, intelligent, funny, and well, he has to have Daddy issues. You know, to steer clear him away from the perfection that–really Perkins–he really was.
And then there was Anna Oliphant. She was sent by her rich father to some school in Paris for a year, and suddenly, everyone’s charmed by her! Every boy in the school, in a relationship or not, wants to be with Anna, and I just did not get it. Her character felt like she was just floating through the narrative, and it felt wrong because the story was told in her perspective. It was like her character was not fully developed, which made her problems sound whiny to me.
The only thing that I liked about her was how she hated the writer in her Dad who made quite a fortune for writing romances in which the partner has contracted a life-threatening disease and then die. I might have a couple of guesses on who her father was, or rather, who Perkins was pertaining to. Charades, anyone?
A couple of weeks ago, my office mate and I were talking how we would kill to have a 16-year-old problems. What more than to have 16-year-old problems of a girl in a first world country? I want to worry about being sent to a school in Paris, hate my Dad for having the riches and getting me what I want, and I want to spend nights thinking of who to pick among the gorgeous boys who like me. Insert smiley.
Before your brows reach skyline, please know that I did not want to have an unpopular opinion on Anna and the French Kiss. Like I said, I was seeking for the solace that YA romances give and the dreamy Etienne and dreamier Paris were the bonuses. But everything felt overworked. It felt too dreamy and perfect.
While I tried to let myself fully be immersed with the story like I usually do, I felt manipulated. Betrayed even. It was not at all realistic, just as people told everyone it was. I was even close to hating myself for not liking a book that a reader like me should like. I used to read Chic Lit, I liked Etienne, I like Young Adult fiction. I like every element of the novel, but gah, it’s frustrating, okay? I still debate with myself on why I was like this towards this book.
Still, I would not deny that Anna and the French Kiss worked some of its magic on me. After all, I was being mopey and I was creying everywhere and I did need a happy kind of book. I was giggly on the earlier parts of the novel [before I got annoyed at Anna] because Perkins made the perfect gorgeous boy, and no, I don’t have problems with Etienne being too much of everything.
After a few hours, he grows sleepy. His head sinks against my shoulder. I don’t dare move. The sun is coming up, and the sky is pink and orange and makes me think of sherbet. sniff his hair. Not out of weirdness. It’s just… there.
So much for ranting. I can’t believe I have been MIA for months and I come back with this post. I know, I hate my guts, too. Anyway…
Anna and the French Kiss is one of the very few happy books that I own, and there’s a chance that I will give this book another shot. Hopefully, I will not sound like an old, bitter woman with 60 dogs when I return to this post.