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Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna is not happy that she’s been sent to boarding school in Paris just because her bestselling author father decided it.  She doesn’t speak any French at all, is missing out on her senior year in Atlanta, and just connected with a cute boy who works with her.  Anna quickly meets a group of kids at the school who have been attending it for years.  Most of them are American seniors, but one boy is part French, part English, part American and entirely perfect.  Unfortunately, he is in a serious long-term relationship and Anna does have that boy back in Atlanta.  So Anna and Etienne become good friends, watch movies together, and struggle to make sure that their relationship stays just friendly.  Filled with lots of romance and plenty of romantic tension, this book is hot, never heavy, and pure bliss.

Perkins has captured the streets of Paris, creating the vibe and feel of a European city seen through the eyes of an American teen.  Readers will enjoy discovering the city with Anna and will love living vicariously through her adventures.  Perkins has also created teens who talk like teenagers, tease like bright teens, get drunk, get angry, lose control, but don’t destroy their lives.  She has written authentic teens who react to real life as real people.  Add to this mix of breathtaking setting and authentic voice, a beautiful love story and you have a winning read.  Perkins has managed to avoid the cliché of the love triangle, instead focusing on two people who are drawn to one another but aren’t available. 

Anna is a protagonist who grows throughout the book in many ways.  She becomes more confident as she leaves her dorm room and walks the streets of Paris.  She also becomes a lot more honest with herself, about the boy back in the states, her best friend in Atlanta, and her true feelings for Etienne.  She is a wonderfully drawn protagonist who is filled with emotions but also plenty of self control.  It makes for a dynamic and fascinating character.  Etienne is equally well drawn with his great hair and handsomeness.  He is not perfect though, he tends to be overly cautious, is desperately scared of heights, and is a tad short. 

Highly recommended, this romance is much more than fluff but has plenty of heady romantic moments too.  Appropriate for ages 15-18. 

Reviewed from ARC received from Penguin.