Review: Anna and the French Kiss & Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

I read Anna and the French Kiss a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. I think it’s being turned into a movie and I will definitely watch it with a few girlfriends one night. Probably not in theatres, it feels like a night in kind of story. Anyways! I liked it because it was set internationally with an Americans view on a boarding school in Paris. I liked how the characters were all nice, but not overly sweet – they had personalities and they stood up for what they thought was right but without being OTT. The book had more serious things occur, like parent problems, parent illness, being away from friends, liking boys that hurt you, liking boys your friend likes, that sort of thing. I read it quickly because I never rolled my eyes and put it down for a bit like I have done with some other YA contemporary novels. Anna is in no way the annoying main character you sometimes find. I wasn’t reading it and thinking she should just say this or just do that, she was realistic and smart and finding her way. And her love interest was the same way, he had depth, and was interesting and rather than being hopelessly impulsive and so sure of his undying love for her he felt his way through a few things as well. I wish more YA novels could have this depth, character development, lack of cliches, and such great writing style.

I went to bed early the other night and tucked in with Lola and the Boy Next Door and read the whole thing before I passed out. I enjoyed it, but I think I liked Anna and the French Kiss more. Start with that one – Anna makes a cameo in this book and it’s so cute when they make references to what happened in the first book. I liked this book but I didn’t love it. There were a few too many typical YA cliches and predictability. I’ll start off with what I liked about it, and then discuss what I didn’t. I loved that Lola had two dads. Casually bringing in gay parents in a positive way is exactly what books need in this day and age. I also liked it that the main characters birth mother was a sometimes-homeless, drug addict/alcoholic and we got to see how the main character felt about it. I think that made her more relatable and showed that her life wasn’t perfect in a way that many people can understand. I also liked it that she made some of the mistakes that so many teenage girls make – she dates a loser and doesn’t seem to realize it right away even though everyone else does. I related to that! And I loved the descriptions of her outfits and costumes. What I didn’t like about it… the way everyone except Lola was so one-dimensional. Her mom was just a screw-up, Calliope was just an uptight jealous bitch, Cricket was the tall, gangly, sweet guy who never says or does anything selfish or rude, her best friend was so loving, into being a detective, and not into having a boyfriend because school comes first. And everything that happened was so obvious. I feel like you can’t expect character development or crazy twists with books like this, but a little bit more from characters would have helped make this book a bit more solid. Also!! In the beginning when she’s freaking out about the neighbours moving back in, I thought “This is going to be juicy!” and then it wasn’t, at all.. in any way. So that disappointed me a bit. I enjoyed my night curled up reading this and I thought it was a cute read, but Anna and the French Kiss was better.


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