Synopsis: Anna’s parents send her to boarding school in France. Awesome, right? Well, not for Anna. She has a life in Atlanta– a good job, a best friend, and a sort-of boyfriend. What’s in France? She doesn’t even speak the language. Luckily, she hits it off right away with a group of friends and is seamlessly integrated into their group. One of her new friends is the dashingly handsome Étienne St. Clair, who is… dating Ellie. Anna has to fight her growing feelings for this unavailable man or risk every friendship she’s built in Paris…
- I don’t want to feel this way around him. I want things to be normal. I want to be his friend, not another stupid girl holding out for something that will never happen.
- And, suddenly, I want to touch him. Not a push, or a shove, or even a friendly hug. I want to feel the creases in his skin, connect his freckles with invisible lines, brush my fingers across the inside of his wrists. He shifts. I have the strangest feeling that he’s as aware of me as I am of him. I can’t concentrate. The characters on the screen are squabbling, but for the life of me I don’t know what about. How long have I not been paying attention?
- “I ask myself, if the worst happened– if I did get knocked up– would I be embarrassed to tell my child who his father was? If the answer is anywhere even remotely close to yes, then there’s no way.”
- Do I see the same St. Clair everyone else does? No. I don’t think so. But I could be mistaking our friendship for something more, because I want to mistake it for something more.
- Is it possible for home to be a person and not a place?
- I wish friends held hands more often, like the children I see on the streets sometimes. I’m not sure why we have to grow up and get embarrassed about it.
- His fingers stroke the inside of my wrists, and I burst into flames. “Kiss me,” I say. He does.
Review: If you’re wondering why I’m posting yet another review, no, I don’t have a bunch of posts queued. I really did stay up until 7am to finish this one. I’ve had a slew of great books recommended to me– this one was no exception– and sometimes you just can’t stop!
Anna is a very relatable character for me. I’m constantly determined not to ruin friendships with boys (or the girls that lust after them) and I do everything in my power to keep things at a friendly level. That’s what Anna has to do with Étienne St. Clair, the most sought-after boy at school, because he already has a girlfriend named Ellie. They’re friends, right from the beginning, and Anna is never sure of the way he’s looking at her– is it more than friends? Or does she just want him to be looking at her like that?
I’ll put the plot aside and focus on the writing for a bit. This story is very, very well written. The characters are funny, the action is well-paced, and there’s a perfect amount of character introspection. Not to mention I personally love the pop culture references thrown in– in one scene, Anna is playing Star Wars with her little brother, and she has her Queen Amidala action figure kissing a Sand Person. Her little brother doesn’t like that, obviously, so Anna hunts for another boyfriend for Amidala.
Aha! Luke Skywalker! The one missing a hand, but oh well. Amidala and Luke kiss. Wait. Isn’t she his mom? I toss Luke aside, as if he’s personally offended me, and dig through the box again.
It’s non-essential to the storyline, sure, but it’s a great light-hearted moment, and made me laugh aloud. (I’m a huge Queen Amidala fan, not gonna lie.)
The author’s descriptions of Paris were lovely, also. I’ve never been there myself, and I’ve never done any particular research into the place, but while I was reading, I could perfectly picture myself standing on the banks of the Seine, or standing atop Notre Dame, staring down the gargoyles. I don’t know if the author has been there herself, but she certainly did her research.
The moment when Anna first realizes she’s madly in love with Étienne was a phenomenal bit of writing. She’s seeing him for the first time after winter break, a winter break during which they spent hours every day on the phone, and it hits her like a Mack truck. Anna’s in love with Étienne. And she can’t breathe, or stand up, and nearby Parisians are starting to get concerned. I don’t know if you’ve ever been so in love with someone that you can’t even bear it, but it’s exactly like that. Unrequited love is the worst, you guys. You love them so much but you also hate them so much for not loving you back that you don’t even want to look at them, but looking at them is all you know how to do.
(SPOILERS) Naturally, Étienne does like her. Of course he does. What kind of terrible book title would that be if he didn’t? He’s known it from day one. He just happens to be phenomenally afraid of change and being alone, and he can’t bring himself to hurt his girlfriend, even though that’s clearly no longer a perfect relationship. When they finally kiss in the park (see above quote about bursting into flames), you want to throw the book down, dance around the room, and cheer. FINALLY! you think. I can’t believe it took them so long!
At any rate, I definitely enjoyed this book. Like I said, I couldn’t put it down (and boy is my sleep schedule the worse for it). Ms. Perkins has a second book out (and a third on the way!) so I think I’ll be tackling that one next!