I’ll be honest. I’ve put off reading this book for a while because, much like the Young Boy in The Princess Bride, I feared it was “a kissing book.” Mostly because of the title. And while I don’t mind some kissing in my books — you know, shoved in between the explosions and the dragons — I didn’t think I was really going to be into a YA contemporary centered around kissing.
But then many, many, many people told me that I needed to read it. And I think the straw that broke the camel’s back was this Twitter conversation where C.J. Redwine bullied me into reading it. (Okay, maybe “bullied” is too harsh, since all she did was use ALL CAPS on Twitter, and I am a pushover).
So I checked it out of the library. And I tried to ignore the cover, because the cover makes me think it’s a kissing book. Also, I don’t like the Eiffel Tower.
I know. I know.
Anyway. I am happy to report that while there most certainly is kissing in this book, it is not “a kissing book,” and it is indeed quite enjoyable.
ALL THE PEOPLE WERE RIGHT.
The Plot (from Goodreads)
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris – until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he’s taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home. As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near – misses end with the French kiss Anna – and readers – have long awaited?
Reasons I wasn’t sure if this book would appeal to me:
1) It sounds like a cheating book. I hate cheating books.
2) It takes place in Paris. I don’t like Paris. I know, I’m weird, but when I visited Paris, I just didn’t like it. For whatever reason. I don’t know. I just don’t like it.
3) The summary uses the phrase “swoon-worthy,” which makes me cringe. Seriously. Is this anyone’s honest reaction when they hear a British accent?
I should hope not. It is overly dramatic, and inaccurate. You know what’s swoon-worthy? Finding out you just won the Publisher’s Clearing House. Finding out that a loved one’s cancer is gone. Discovering that a loved one you thought was dead is actually alive.
Not a British accent.
None of my problems with this book turned out to actually be problems with this book. Which was a pleasant surprise.
I loved Anna. First off, Anna also kind of hates Paris, and thus I felt a kinship with her. She also is socially awkward and goes to painstaking and impractical lengths to keep from coming in contact with other humans, and I was like, YES. I can relate to this!
And then I also liked her friends. So often in books, I wind up liking the protagonist and then hating their friends, and then wondering why they’re friends in the first place. Not so in this book. They had a natural friend dynamic, where every member of the group had a distinct personality and role to play, and you could see why they would all have gravitated toward each other.
Of course, the majority of the plot circles around her relationship with Etienne St. Clair, and her struggle to determine how she feels when she knows he has a girlfriend and she has a maybe-something-or-other back in Atlanta. I was prepared for this to be extremely irritating, either because their friendship wouldn’t feel like a real friendship, or because one of them was going to cheat. And I just can’t root for cheaters. Period.
But. It wasn’t irritating. Or at least, not irritating in a way that kept me from enjoying the book. I was irritated alongside Anna. She berated herself for looking for hidden meaning in his actions, and I could completely sympathize. And while there were a few times I just wanted to throttle St. Clair (who, while not a cheater, was a monumentally crappy boyfriend on several occasions), he never crossed that point-of-no-return line where I simply would not be able to hold out hope for him and Anna anymore, because I’d be too busy thinking he was scum.
I liked that their friendship was real. They were comfortable, their personalities were complementary, and they just worked well together. One of my favorite chapters was their back-and-forth holiday email exchanges, which is normally one of my least favorite book gimmicks. But their banter seemed natural and easy, and I enjoyed it.
Anyway. I could keep talking about this book and how much fun it was and how I loved Anna’s snarky yet awkwardly endearing inner monologue and how happy it made me to read about friendships that felt real and a friendship-turned-romance that didn’t feel forced. Or I could stop talking and you could just go read it. Which you should.
Content Guide: Contains profanity, under-age drinking, implied sexual activity