A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (Lola and the Boy Next Door) takes place in a Parisian boarding school, where the resident teens swear, get drunk, and have sex. Although Anna's a virgin, she and her love interest do spend the night in the same bed. She also has some pretty intense makeout sessions. But there's a really sweet love story here: Anna and Etienne have authentic chemistry and friendship before starting a relationship, which could prove a good model for teens. Also, readers will enjoy the depictions of Paris, and perhaps want to discuss whether Anna's unflattering comparisons of America with Parisian life feel authentic.
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What's the story?
Anna's upset when her dad ships her off to an exclusive boarding school in Paris for her senior year, but she quickly meets a good group of smart friends -- including handsome, charming Etienne St. Clair -- who show her the city's beauty. An aspiring film critic, Anna loves the city's many theaters (also the pastries!), but she also soon realizes she's in love with a boy who has a serious girlfriend. Is she wrong to believe that he has feelings for her, too?
Is it any good?
ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS is worth reading just for the beautiful descriptions of Paris and all the wonderful food there. With his English accent, stormy relationship with his father, and small, thoughtful gestures toward Anna, Etienne's a great romantic lead who'll have readers swooning, too. Parents will appreciate that there's a genuine friendship between the two protagonists, and that Anna even admits, "It's okay if St. Clair and I never become more than friends. His friendship alone has strengthened me in a way that no one else's has. He swept me from my room and showed me independence." The story may go on a bit long, with too many extra storylines, but when these two inevitably get together, ooh la la!
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Anna's comparisons between French people and Americans. Do you think her assessment of Americans' fast food habits are true, for example? What differences do you see between life in your town and in Paris, as seen through Anna's eyes?
What other stories do you know that feature a traveling protagonist? What's appealing about these stories?
What do you think will happen to Anna and Etienne as they go off to college? Do you think it's possible for people who are still in high school to stay together?
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