Anna and the French Kiss: Jen vs. Lindsay


I think it’s only fair to let you know that this is Lindsay typing this part. Part? Yes! Jen and I have TEAMED UP to bring you this post about Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins! (Did you go visit Stephanie’s site?  Can you believe how she can tell how good we look today?  Also, I HAVE been working on my smile for photos lately – it’s nice that someone noticed.  And OMG, isn’t she just so super cute??)  The reason for this is because even though we both read the same book, one of us LOVED it, and one of us LOATHED it!  Spoiler alert: I LOVED it!  Jen LOATHED it.  I have read through Jen’s opinion, and can see where she is coming from.  And to be honest, I was wondering if her opinion would sway mine, but it didn’t!  I still love it!  Sometimes my opinion isn’t super strong and can change when someone else states their case, so this just proves that I SUPER LOVED this book!

So you probably would like a summary, huh?  Well here’s one from Indie Bound:

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.

Would you like a mini-review by John Green?  @realjohngreen:  @maureenjohnson have you read ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS? It’s like you and me and Sarah Dessen had a really sexy baby.

Do you really want to miss that, people?  DO YOU?  Even though that’s one heckuva weird description.  But still, 3 authors I adore!  And their ….baby…?  WHATEVER!  I LOVE IT!

So in order to save people from spoiling themselves on accident, I am going to make this an after the jump kind of post!  Now, how do I do that? (Hold on a second, I have to hunt…I know you can do it ’cause Jen’s done it before…holy cow, what is the kitchen sink?  …You can do polls??? is shortlink what I’m looking for?  …OK, NOTE TO JEN!  CAN YOU MAKE THIS A JUMPING POST?  I WOULD DO IT BUT I’M AFRAID TO HIT THE SHORTLINK BUTTON AND THEN DELETE ALL THIS STUFF.  THANK YOU! ❤ )

Ok, if you are reading this, Jen made the post jump!  Or actually, she might not have and you’ve totally just read straight down.  So hopefully you had a buffer zone so you could STOP READING this post if you didn’t want to be spoiled.  Or maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about since Jen edited this all out (HI JEN AGAIN!)

I’m going to try not to be too mean and vicious, but I get really emotionally involved in the books that I read, and I Super-dee-Dooper-dee-Booper Special de luxe a-la-Peter T. Hooper hated this book with sprinkles on top.

I was really looking forward to reading Anna and the French Kiss.  It should have been literally the perfect book for me.  YA love story set in a foreign locale, yippee!!!  Main character who loves movies and wants to be a movie critic, my gosh, that could be me!!  A super-hot, curly-haired (eeeeeep!!), history buff guy who also happens to have a cute accent…..ummm, I’m pretty sure Stephanie Perkins stole the exact blueprints for my perfect guy.  I should have LOVED this book.

Instead, I really wanted to punch it in the face.  I HATED this book.  I haven’t felt this strongly about a book since Rachel Vail’s Lucky (yeah, that’s right, I’m never going to stop hating that book either).  There are two reasons why this book totally sucked for me.  First of all, St. Clair (and yes, for those of you who have already read it, I refuse to call him Etienne because it makes me throw up in my mouth) who is the guy, is a total and complete douchebag.  I’m sorry if that is offensive to anyone, but there really isn’t any other way to say it.  He is supposed to be Anna’s dream guy (therefore the reader’s dream guy) and he is nothing but an asshole.  And Anna, our fearless heroine, is a wet rag who might as well be named Bella Swan to the 8th power.

The basic plot is that average Jane American girl Anna goes off to boarding school in Paris and meets uber-cute upstairs guy St. Clair.  She is immediately attracted to him and they do a lot of flirting back and forth.  But, whoops!  He’s got a girlfriend.  Sounds like the plot of a lot of other books, what’s the big problem?  Well, my friends, my problem is that he does not break up with his girlfriend until the end of the school year, but he does a lot of more-than-just-friends things with Anna throughout all of those months!!!

So here is why St. Clair is also known as Captain Douchebag to me.  It would have been fine if he and Anna had just been friends during the school year and grown to like each other over that period of time by accident (it’s been known to happen).  But no!  He and Anna do not have a friendship.  From the moment they meet they are basically in a relationship without the sex.  They don’t have a real friendship because their “friendship” is based on the fact that they both want to get in each other’s pants.  It is obvious from like week 2 of school that Anna is falling hard for St. Clair.  But it is also obvious that he is falling for her too.  That would be fine, except HE KEEPS DATING HIS GIRLFRIEND!!!!!  Just break up with her, for Pete’s sake!!!!!  He and Anna spend the next several months flirting, going on dates (let’s face it, they ARE dates), sharing all the intimate details of their lives, flirting incessantly and being all lovey-dovey in front of their friends (barf barf) and sleeping together (not REALLY sleeping together, just literally sleeping together, but there is nothing friendship-y about it at all).

All of their friends know that the two of them are nuts about each other, and yet our little friend St. Clair still doesn’t feel the need to break up with his girlfriend.  For those of you that did read the book and enjoyed it, think back over the course of the school year…….how would you feel if you were in Ellie’s shoes (his gf) and found out everything he had been doing with Anna……doesn’t seem like such a great guy now, does he?

He emotionally cheats on Ellie for months (I’m not sure if that is a real thing, but that is what I am going to call it) until he actually does REALLY cheat on her.

During the course of the book, he had one chance to slightly redeem himself.  When Anna finally gets up the guts to ask why he hasn’t broken up with Ellie yet (she of course waits to ask him this until like the END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR…..way to stand up for yourself there Anna) he says something asinine like “I didn’t want to be alone” or something ridiculous like that…….WHAT???  WHAT???? SPLUTTER!!! WHAT?????  So, he is living at school with his friends and one, no wait two, no hold on three girls are panting after him wanting to be next in line and he is scared of being alone.  Oh, break out the tiny violins.  That is one the all time classic asshole lines that they pull out whenever they get backed into a corner.

Now, I will admit that St. Clair has some Mommy issues and Daddy issues, but that is honestly no excuse for his behavior.  There is something that I just cannot abide by and that is cheating.  I’m sorry if there are any cheaters out there reading this, but I think that cheating is something that only weak people with no self-control and no self-respect succumb to.  Granted, St. Clair doesn’t actually cheat on Ellie until the very end of the book and then immediately runs with his tail between his legs to go break up with her, but if I was Ellie, I would consider many of his actions throughout the book with Anna to be just as bad as cheating.

It’s like that episode of Sex and the City that led to that horrible movie, He’s Just Not That Into You.  In this case, it’s “He’s Just an Asshole.”  He can make every excuse in the book, but St. Clair is the type of guy who is going to treat women however he wants because he is cute and charming and he gets away with it every time.

Speaking of getting away with it, let’s talk about Anna for a second.  What the hell, girl???  She is head over heels for this guy and he leads her on and gives her all these “I want you bad” signals, yet he never breaks up with his other girl.  And what does Anna do…….she sits around and waits for him…..well, she doesn’t really wait…….near the end of the book she practically has sex with him with her eyes every time she sees him.  And when she gets upset because he’s treating her like crap (he’s actually treating Ellie and Anna like crap) what does she do?  She yells at him, but then all he has to do is bat those big brown eyes and show their secret smile and she turns into Anna pudding and falls right back into his arms.  Gag me.  Good luck with him Anna, you totally deserve each other.

Apparently the message of most YA novels these days seems to be “It’s okay if your dream guy is a cheater, as long as he’s cheatin’ on his girlfriend with you! *wink wink*”  Ugh

The unwritten epilogue of this book is of course that they both go off to college and St. Clair meets a girl in his history class that he totally falls for.  But he can’t break up with Anna because she got him through all the stuff with his mom, so he just secretly spends all his time with this other girl.  He doesn’t grow the balls to break up with Anna until she catches him sleeping with the history girl, but of course Anna breaks up with him when she sees that.  But she can’t be mad at him, so she forgives him and he spends another two years cheating before finally growing the cahones to break up with Anna.  By then he’s already found girl # 3.  The End.


I really loved the characters – I felt like I could relate to them.  Well, I felt like I could relate to Anna.  Sure, some people see Anna as a little whiny because she misses her life back in Atlanta.  But!  One of things that Anna says is that she doesn’t resent being sent to Paris.  She feels lucky to be in Paris.  It’s that she wasn’t given a choice.  And oh my goodness if I don’t feel the same way about choices.  I will be the first to admit that I am not the most reasonable person.  I resent being told what to do, even if I was about to do that thing in the first place.  Example:  After a particular Christmas dinner a few days ago, I was told to take a crock pot upstairs.  The thing is, I already had the crock pot in my hands and was about to step onto the staircase.  Now, because I am twenty five years old (shocking, I know) and was among my in-laws, I just smiled and said, “Sure.”  But seriously, the immature Lindsay wanted to shove the crock pot into the person’s hands and say, “No, you do it,” and then stomp off and pout.  Because I hate being told what to do.  Now, if I had been still eating, and someone instead ASKED me to start helping with the dish clearing, etc. I would have popped up and started helping with a genuine smile on my face.  I’m only certain that most other people feel similar to me, but with probably less severe reactions.  So you see!  I can totally relate, because Anna was like, “if they had just asked me, maybe I would have said yes to Paris!” But no one asked her!  I totally feel for you, homegirl.

Another reason I liked the book – Etienne St. Clair.  Yes.  I’ll admit it – I liked Etienne.  I mean, boy is a history buff!  And he’s short!  But you wouldn’t know it because he carries himself with confidence that demands respect.  Even though he doesn’t like everybody, he treats them kindly (except for Dave, but that’s because Dave a) is a douche, and b) likes Anna).  He sticks up for his friends.  He loves his mom and isn’t ashamed to admit it.  Because of his mom, he admires people who are like her, people good at art.  He could be jealous of them because he’s not as talented, but he isn’t.  And I know that this is not necessarily the best reason, but he’s afraid of heights.  That seems silly, but it really endeared Etienne to me.  And it wasn’t something that Perkins just said, she showed it multiple times, so it wasn’t just a tossed out there fact.

Ok, now I can just hear Jen going, but he was flirting with Anna the whole time he was dating Ellie!  Yes, I know.  But see, I don’t begrudge him that.  Because you can’t just break up with your girlfriend/boyfriend every time you meet someone new who you’re attracted to.  Yes, Etienne should have broken up with Ellie, probably back before he got drunk and confessed to Anna that he liked her.  But then Anna went and told him he didn’t say anything weird to her, which he took to mean that she wasn’t interested in her.  And then there’s the whole part where we don’t even know the part of the story between Etienne and Ellie, so Ellie could be a perfectly lovely girl and we wouldn’t even know, but she could also be kind of a bitch.  Who knows?  I don’t, but what I do know is that this is not Ellie’s and Etienne’s story, it’s Anna’s.

Another reason I LOVED the book – Anna realizes that she might not be as nice as she thought.  I appreciated that Anna talks about wanting to claw Ellie in the face and stuff.  Because OMG! have I ever felt like that!  It sucks to have a crush on a boy who is “taken”, because then you feel like a mean ass jerk wishing bad things would happen to his significant other.  But I’m so glad Anna says she feels like that because it’s so true.  It would be a shame if Perkins had made Anna instead just feel really sad that she couldn’t have Etienne.

And another reason that is kind of mean!  I love how Anna kept count of the nights that Etienne spent with her vs. Ellie.  And that she said she was winning J.  It’s just such a teen girl thing to do.  Or at least the kind of thing that I would have done at that age (or in college…cough).

The cheating – ok, yes Etienne cheated on Ellie.  I won’t try to defend him here.  But the moment that he physically cheated (when he kissed Anna, and oh what a kiss!), he went and broke it off with Ellie.  And he went and apologized to Meredith, even though really she didn’t exactly need an apology since I don’t feel he ever lead her on.  Still, he realized he had hurt Meredith even though he was always going to hurt her because he didn’t like her that way and it was inevitable, and he apologized anyway.  And ok, yes, Etienne admits that he cheated on his girlfriend in his mind every time he thought of Anna, but I don’t really count that as cheating.  So yes, Etienne should have sucked it up and just broken up with Ellie once he realized he liked Anna more.  But seriously, how many boys do you know who would have done that if they thought they didn’t really have a chance with Anna?

And you can’t really blame Anna so much.  It makes more sense to wait for Toph, since he’s the one back home in America.  When you’re young like Anna, it’s hard to think that a relationship started so far from your home will actually last.  And with Etienne and Anna I feel like their relationship would be the kind that would either last the whole way or end incredibly painfully (OMG which reminds me, everyone go read Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, in which this kind of relationship is the focus (well, kind of…ish)…and also it’s an amazing book!).  So of course, since in the first place Etienne is unavailable, Anna clings to the idea of Toph back home.  And she keeps going on about Toph to Etienne, so of course Etienne thinks he doesn’t have a chance with Anna and so why break up with Ellie and be alone especially when he’s going through all the crap with his family?  It makes sense in a warped way to me.  But then maybe I’m a coward like Etienne, which makes it easier for me to sympathize with him.  I’m not sure.  Thankfully I’ve never had a horrible situation like that to deal with.

And OMG how cute was the Christmas break vacation?  The emails!  Those are totally emails that teens send each other when they’re super in love but still in the friends zone!  In fact, it so closely resembled an email/IM exchange I had back in the day it was almost a little painful and embarrassing for me.  Painful and embarrassing because that relationship did not work out, mainly because the guy did NOT like me that way, he was just a jerk having fun.  But still, and the phone call when Anna realized that Etienne was her new home.  So heart warming!

And just another example of how adorable this book is, I give you this scene from the airport!  Pages 206-207!

“‘Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin flew away….”

“Yes, great, I get it.  Ha ha.  Stupid me.”

“What?  It’s just a Christmas song.”  He grins and continues a bit louder.  “‘Batman lost a wheel, on the M1 motorway, hey!”

“Wait.”  I frown.  “What?”

What what?”

“You’re singing it wrong.”

“No, I’m not.”  He pauses.  “How do you sing it?”

I pat my coat, double-checking for my passport.  Phew.  Still there.  “It’s ‘Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg’-”

St. Clair snorts.  “Laid an egg?  Robin didn’t lay an egg-”

“‘Batmobile lost a wheel, and the Joker got away.'”

He stares at me for a moment, and then says with perfect conviction, “No.”

There’s more, but seriously!  HOW CUTE ARE THEY?  😀 😀 😀

OK!  So now it’s YOUR turn!  Have you read Anna and the French Kiss?  How did you feel about it! (This is my first time posting a POLL!!)  Also, feel free to explain your FEELINGS in the comment section! (Robots, I can’t guarantee you I’ll approve your comments, but if you feel yourself evolving, go ahead!)


10 Responses to “Anna and the French Kiss: Jen vs. Lindsay”

  1. 1 ngtlindsay January 6, 2011 at 1:06 am

    OK, I know it’s totally lame to be commenting on my OWN post especially since I JUST posted it, but can I just say how proud of myself I am that I figured out the jumping thing! That took like 20 minutes of solid effort! YAY! AH yes, and I did not take out any of my asides to Jen. Oh well, that just makes this post more personal to everyone 🙂

  2. 2 ngtjennifer January 6, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Great job Lindsay!!! Thanks for doing all the hard stuff! It took me much longer than 20 minutes to figure out how to do jumping, so you should feel very proud of yourself!

  3. 3 Abby January 6, 2011 at 10:10 am

    I just have to say that I loved this post!! Jen, I can totally see why you hated this book (even though I did love it). I LOLed! 🙂

  4. 4 ngtjennifer January 6, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Like I told Lindsay, I’m glad that it makes you laugh and not be mad or sad if you liked the book. I think it shows that us nerdgirls really get involved in our reading 🙂

  5. 5 ngtlindsay January 6, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    @Jen Which is SUPER important! I maintain that a good book invokes deep feelings, good OR bad! 😀
    @Abby Can’t you just hear Jen’s part in her voice?? I kept giggling when I was reading it and going, “Oh Jen!”
    @Jen again, dude, I was SO proud of myself, you have no idea!

  6. 6 ngtjill January 22, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Hooray, I finally finished the book & can read this!!

    Jen, I love you, but I have to respectfully disagree. I’m giving St. Clair a Michael award, but I’m sorry if that makes you throw up a little bit. I do get what you’re saying though. He probably should have broken up with Ellie a lot sooner, especially when he was thinking so much about Anna and giving her such thoughtful gifts and things. But I totally buy that he was afraid what would happen if he broke up with Ellie and Anna actually didn’t like her. Rejection is a very scary thing.

    Lindsay, I think you and I were probably almost the same person in our teen years (or ahem, college). P.S. Polls! Who knew??

    Anyway, one of the things I love about this book is the evidence that St. Clair has faults. Usually, they guy is so perfect, we don’t see anything less than that. But Perkins shows us many times that he gets angry, scared, and is afraid of heights! And I love Anna. She is NOT Bella. She has actual interests – LOVE the film buff aspect; do they really show old films in theaters there? I’M SO GOING TO PARIS – and is shy being in such a foreign setting (literally). I could totally relate to her through basically the whole book, which was really kind of refreshing.

    I did see the Bridgette-Toph-Anna / Anna-St. Clair-Meredith comparison coming, and honestly, was a little disappointed by that. I so hated Bridgette after Anna went home for Christmas. I guess I wasn’t ready to forgive her because at least Meredith could kind of see it coming.

    Also, after Anna saw St. Clair after they got back from Christmas break when she was physically weak in the knees, I may have started hating the book if it didn’t calm down. But it did.

    Ok, that’s long enough. 🙂

    • 7 ngtjennifer January 22, 2011 at 7:33 pm

      Jill, I am okay with you liking the book, but the idea of Jerky McJerkface getting a Michael award makes me throw up in my mouth A LOT!!

      I guess people can say all they want in his defense, but his actions will always be inexcusable to me.

  7. 8 ngtlindsay January 22, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    @Jill YAY!

    @Jen HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Not laughter at Jill taking my side, but I love you so much for saying you’re throwing up a LOT in your mouth 🙂

  8. 9 Annely October 15, 2011 at 12:40 am

    Jen, I’ve finally met (err- not really but oh well) someone who shares the exact same opinion I do about this book! I really wanted to love it, but I just ended up hating it.

    I feel that Etienne was acting like a complete and utter douchebag. I know a lot of people say that he’s not perfect and that he was scared of rejection because Anna kept giving mixed signals to counteract his mixed signals, but choosing to continue hurting everyone (esp his girlfriend) just because he didn’t want to get hurt himself was something I took as the sign of cowardice. Very unattractive.

    You can’t help growing apart from someone, or developing feelings for someone new, but what you can help is how you choose to handle these situations. He should have broken up with Ellie a looong time ago. And with regards to Lindsay’s (please don’t take this personally!) defense about not breaking up with someone every time you’re attracted to someone new, Etienne himself says that he’s “never felt like this about anyone before” and that he’s been “in love with [her] the whole bleeding year.” I barfed in my mouth a little when he said that he couldn’t break up with Ellie because “we’ve been together so long and we’ve been through loads together” and felt like shouting back “then the least you could do for old times sake is to come clean and be honest with her!”

    I can’t totally begrudge Anna’s feelings. I can relate to being swoony over a hot French boy, regardless of whether or not he’s taken. But I can’t really sympathize either. If you let yourself be second fiddle to someone, you will be second fiddle. And I wonder if she ever stopped to think “If he’s going to act this way with me, while he has a girlfriend, won’t he act the same way with another girl when I become his girlfriend?” It’s almost as if this book said that the cheating was okay because it was between the two people who mattered the most, and it doesn’t matter how much everyone else was hurt to get there. I found it more selfish than romantic.

    I also feel like if this had happened in real life to me, or you, or anyone else, it would lose a lot of its romantic splendour. I get that all the immaturity and drama in this story is due in part to the fact that it is a teen book, and teen love is nothing if not reckless, immature, confusing, lustful, passionate and spontaneous, but the way it ended was too sugar-coated for my taste.

    Pardon my strong commentary, I’m the type who gets REALLY into a book and takes everything personally. If I ever met anyone like Etienne I think I would castrate him. Okay not really, but I would probably dislike him a lot haha. And I totally get that if things went the way I wanted them to, with Etienne being Mr. Righteous from the start, that the book would be boring and end quickly, but I guess I’m just really hell-bent on my idea of a perfect ending. Overall, I think this story was really good (and very well-written), but not at all the happy ending I was looking for.

    • 10 ngtjennifer October 16, 2011 at 3:35 pm

      I am so glad that I am not the only one who hated it!!! I completely agree with everything you said. If Etienne is the “perfect” dream guy that we are all supposed to be waiting for, I would much rather be single for the rest of my life than have to spend it with someone who treats women that way.

      I have a ZERO tolerance policy when it comes to cheating and that is why this book was so repugnant. Apparently not everyone feels that way. I was talking with a friend the other day and she was like, “I don’t think cheating is that big of a deal. If they were really sorry and promised not to do it again…” I was like, “ummmmm….wtf??? How is that okay AT ALL?”

      Anyway, for some reason I love to talk about how much I despise this book, and am tempted to read her new book just so I can complain about that one too (I’ve been told by a very trusted source that I would NOT like it).

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