I always forget why I don’t like contemporary romance novels. Then I read one. And oh do I remember. Anna is forced to attend a boarding school in Paris (OH THE HORROR) by her famous novelist father who JUST DOESN’T UNDERSTAND.
You would think, upon getting ready to live alone in a whole different part of the world, you would find out a bit about the country. But Anna, dear, dear Anna, does not have common sense. She finds herself sobbing into her pillow, confused and alone. However, despite her slightly awkward social skills, and her inability to read the lunch menu, she joins a group of friends who help her with the language and show her around the beautiful city. In this group we have Meredith, who has a pretty room and an irritating crush. Next there’s Josh, funny, laid back, and one of the novels few redeeming qualities, along with his girlfriend Rashmi. While they don’t have huge roles, their quirky personalities are a breath of fresh air from the ridiculous story.
Of course, last but never ever least, we have the cliché of clichés, Etienne St Clair. He’s an American, with a British accent, living in France. His golden brown hair is perfectly soft, and styled in such a way that you can’t tell if he spent an hour on it or if he simply woke up with it. He’s funny without sounding lame, sarcastic without being rude, and he can talk his way out of any situation. Anna falls head over heels for St. Clair, bonding with him over daddy issues and how tasty grapes are. But, plot twist! St Clair already has a girlfriend, and even as he grows closer to Anna, he’s scared of change. This doesn’t fit in with his confident (but NEVER obnoxious) manner and his willingness for new things.
Just when Anna thinks she may have a chance with him, her new friend Meredith freaks out, because HOW DARE Anna have feelings for the most cliché perfect boy that ever existed! Drama! Meredith really needs to chill.
Amidst all the cheesy romance and cat fights, we have the beautiful setting. When Anna finally ventures out of her school, we get a good feel for the French culture. There are no fantastic descriptions but Stephanie Perkins does have a nice flow to her writing that makes it come alive. I have always wanted to visit Paris and the small glimpse was what kept me reading.
Unfortunately Anna is just a shallow character. Her dream is to become a film critic, inspired by her father’s horrible book to movie adaptations. However she seems o nothing about film. While exploring Paris, she is shocked to discover movie theaters everywhere. She is literally in the home of film itself. And she claims to be an expert. In her excitement, she begins to book tickets for all the American movies she can find. That’s right. American. She is in France. And not once, not even when she becomes fluent in the language, does she venture to see a French film IN FRANCE!
Despite all the dumb things she does, there were some cute moments with St Clair. Like when everyone else goes home for thanksgiving except for them, and they dance on the front desk. This was quickly taken over by moments of extreme cheese as they gazed into each other’s eyes. Ugh.
Stephanie Perkins has a nice quirky writing style but it’s brought down but shallow characters and an over dramatic plot that I hope no one has to go through in real life.