by Stephanie Perkins
First sentence: “Here is everything I know about France: Madeline and Amélie and Moulin Rouge.”
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Copy given to me by the lovely Vasilly
So, this one has been getting a lot of hype, all of it saying how wonderful, how great, how supremely perfect this was.
M, when she finished it said, “Well, that was cheesetastic. Good cheese, but so cheesy.”
The basic story: Anna Oliphant is the daughter of a Nicholas Sparks-type author, who, not wanting to be outdone by all his Posh Hollywood Friends, ships Anna off to a Posh boarding school in Paris. (Oh noes.) She doesn’t know a lick of French, doesn’t want to leave her comfortable life in Atlanta, doesn’t want to leave her blossoming almost-relationship with Toph. But, to Paris she goes.
Where she bumps into — literally — Étienne St. Clair.
(cue dreamboat music)
What ensues is a lot of romantic push-and-pull. Anna obviously St. Clair, but she has a double problem to deal with: he’s got a girlfriend though she’s kind of out of the picture, and Anna’s friend Mer likes him as well. Then there’s the question of whether or not St. Clair likes her? Sure, they’re friends, and they hang out all the time. But does he like her?
(Because, you know, we ALL want to know that.)
That’s not to say this is a bad book: it’s predictable, sure. But I did enjoy the relationship between Anna and St. Clair, it’s heights and valleys, and it’s inevitable, swoon-worthy resolution. It’s not a simple book, and much like Maureen Johnson’s work, Perkins knows how to write a romance that deals with more even while putting the relationship front-and-center.
Update, 2018: I can see how I thought it was cheesy, but for whatever reason (time, place, etc.), I found it to have a lot more depth this time. There were themes about communication and assumptions that touched me, and a reminder that while my children are my responsibility, they are also their own people with their own dreams, and it’s not up to me to control their lives. Also: I missed the subtext that Americans really can be awful (en masse) the first time around. Still a very good book.
Not perfect, b I ut delightful.