Anna and the French Kiss

Common Sense Media says

Sweet love story has romantic Parisian backdrop.

Age(i)

2
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Readers will enjoy Anna's take on Paris, as she talks not only about the beautiful buildings there, but also what it's like to live in a culture where people take food so seriously. Some teens might enjoy discussing whether Anna's unflattering comparisons of America and Paris feel authentic to them.

Positive messages

Positive message of building a romantic relationship on friendship and really wanting to be around each other, not just for the physical stuff. 

Positive role models

Anna and Etienne both grow up during their senior years. She becomes more independent as a result of her adventure abroad, and he, too, learns to take risks in order to get what he really wants. 

Violence

Anna and another girl get into a physical fight that leaves Anna with scratches on her face. Etienne punches a boy who calls Anna a name. During an argument, Etienne's father says he should smack Etienne in the head.

Sex

Anna and Etienne do sleep together, but it's really just sleep. She tells him she's a virgin; she knows he has had sex with his girlfriend (also, other couples are having sex). Their residential adviser gives Anna and Etienne condoms when he sees them together. Anna's American crush publicly declares that he's having sex with her best friend. Several classmates call Anna a slut after a boy says he's had sex with her. Some descriptions of intense kissing.

Language

Pretty much what you'd expect from a group of sophisticated, loud-mouthed teens in boarding school: "S--t" and its British equivalent, "a--hole," "bitch," "slut," and a few instances of "f--k."

Consumerism

A few negative mentions of fast food chains, such as McDonald's, Subway, and Taco Bell. Also: Target; movies including Star Wars, Lost in Translation, Iron Man.  

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

In Paris it's legal for 16-year-olds to drink beer and wine (18 for hard liquor). Anna's embarrassed to tell her friends she's never been drunk before and quickly remedies the situation, drinking until she throws up. Other teen characters also get drunk and display beer pyramids in their dorm. Adults smoke, and although Anna and her friends aren't depicted as smoking, several characters smell like cigarettes after nights out. 

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?

QUALITY
 

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!

Families can talk 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? 

Book details

Author:Stephanie Perkins
Genre:Coming of Age
Topics:High school
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Dutton Books
Publication date:December 2, 2010
Publisher's recommended age(s):14 - 18
Available on:Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of Anna and the French Kiss was written by

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