sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

February 23, 2012

oldest, twilight, and cupcakes
posted by soe 11:04 pm

Three beautiful things from my past week:

1. Home in Connecticut for a planned long weekend, I am able to see both Karen and Danny. It’s rare treat to get to see my oldest and dearest friends — particularly on consecutive days.

2. Sitting low on the horizon, the moon serves as a most delicate bowl, waiting to catch Venus and an early evening star, should they tumble in the sky.

3. Mum makes two kinds of cupcakes for my birthday — blueberry-lemon and coconut. Both are delicious, as everything she bakes always is.

How about you? What was beautiful in your world this week?

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into the stacks: anna and the french kiss
posted by soe 2:28 am

Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins

From the jacket: “Anna was 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. So she’s less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris — until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all … including a serious girlfriend. But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?”

My take: Anna’s father, a best-selling author of schmaltzy novels rapidly being turned into sappy movies, decides that his daughter needs a year abroad before heading off to college. So without asking her opinion, he enrolls her at the School of America in Paris (SAP, for short). In short order, she is plucked from a comfortable life babysitting her young brother, hanging out with her drum-playing BFF, and working at the local movie theater (a gem of a job for a cinema blogger and aspiring film critic) where her coworker seems to be getting up the courage to ask her out and dumped in a country where she doesn’t speak the language with fellow students who have spent years together.

But it’s not all bad. After a few teary nights and stressful days, Anna finds comfort in the company of sporty, Beatles-loving Meredith, artistic Josh, ambitious Rashmi, and charming and cute Étienne St. Clair, who introduces her to the world of French cinema when he takes her on a tour of the city. When it seems like things are finally starting to fall into place for her and her new-found friends, Étienne gets terrible news that threatens the equilibrium of their intimate group. Will it bring them all closer together or tear them apart?

Anna and the French Kiss does what Maureen Johnson’s 13 Little Blue Envelopes failed to do (much as I enjoyed that novel) — which is to plausibly deposit a somewhat naive high school senior on the doorstep of a European adventure. Other than having a rich father (who divorced her mom and moved away just as he was becoming successful), Anna is a normal teenager living a normal life — complete with an awesome best friend and a little brother she adores, an ex-boyfriend dating a girl she can’t stand, and the hopes for a really good romance for her senior year. Pluck her from that and dump her in Paris for a year — only allowing her home for Christmas break — and you’ve got a great scenario for a story. Throw in a cute boy with a British accent, a girlfriend, and a major life issue and set it a boarding school where they allow seniors more freedom than they’d get in an American school and write it adeptly and humorously and you’ve got teen romance gold.

Many thank you’s to all the book bloggers who put Perkins’ second novel on 2011’s best of lists. Without that nudge, I wouldn’t have remembered that Anna and the French Kiss had been languishing on my To Be Read list for more than a year. I would rank Stephanie Perkins’ first novel up there with Sarah Dessen’s work as being a great contemporary book for teen girls — and that’s saying a lot.

Pages: 372

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