I came upon this book by mere chance, I had not heard of it -and apparently I was living under a rock because afterwards I found out that this book caused quite a stir-, last week I was hopping trough blogs and saw a very good review, I think the reviewer said something like it was her favorite contemporary romance ever –if I find the link I’ll post it on the comments because for the life of me I can’t remember the name of the blog-, and I decided to check it out, I was not expecting to enjoy it as much (mostly because YA books and I don’t usually see eye to eye).
In this book we meet Anna, she is the daughter of a Nicholas Sparks-esque writer who is a lot into appearances and thus decides to send her to an exclusive school in France without minding that she is perfectly happy living in America with her mother and brother. Once at her new school she befriends a group of artsy cool kids that are somewhat popular, but not exactly THE popular crowd. One of these kids is Etienne St. Clair, he is -in one word- dreamy, and they instantly connect, the problem is that he has a girlfriend, needless to say that the entire book deals with Anna adapting to her new life and adapting to her growing and conflicting relationship with St. Clair.
I have to say that this book is the quintessential angst-filled book, and this is also fueled by an amazing sexual tension between the leads. This is the type of book that if you find yourself liking it from the beginning, then you don’t just read it, you inhale it, because I cannot see someone slowly reading it, you just need to know how everything is going to end, to me the need was almost a compulsion I think I was up until 3 am reading it.
The book was refreshing because they all acted like real teenagers, half the time I wanted to smack them on the heads. I liked it a lot at 26, but I think at 16 it would have become my favorite book ever because I would have been able to connect more with the characters, now I just felt they would have benefited by a decade of experience, which is exactly my point, it was real! How many times do you think about things you did years ago that caused a lot of drama and preoccupation in your life, and now looking back all you want to do is travel back and kick your teenage ass into reason?
St. Clair is also refreshing, here you don’t get a perfect, understanding, and mature 18 year old; you get an intelligent, funny, mature in some things but immature in others, good looking, imperfect boy, a boy whose decisions -or lack thereof- causes some of that drama and preoccupation. You also get a girl that feels an instant attraction to a great guy but that has feelings for a guy back home too and therefore feels conflicted about it. I was really glad to read a book like this.
Yes, there were some pretty implausible things, most of the students were underage and enjoyed an incredible amount of freedom; they could go out at night and come back at any time, they had sex, they drank… I haven’t been to an exclusive boarding school abroad (or here for that matter), but I think in real life the school’s authorities might have more control over the lives of their students.
Overall the book was really good, it has a well-known plot but Perkins delivers it in a very original way, Anna is likeable, funny, intelligent, and I think she makes a good role model especially now that we get some YA books that have some leading ladies that are just plain scary when you think of them as role models for teenage girls.
I don’t give this one a 5 because some of the character’s actions were infuriating and at times that really got on my nerves, and as much as I loved the book I don’t think I will re-read it but I am most certainly looking forward to reading more books by this author.
Review by Brie
Anna was 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. So she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend.But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt.
Dutton Juvenile. December 2, 2010.