Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins has been on my to read list for a while. Like at least a year. But it’s a contemporary YA, and I don’t normally do those. So there it waited. I looked at it every time I checked my Amazon wish list. And every time, I didn’t buy it (stupid, stupid, Sus!). Then I went to the YA event in Asheville and my writer friend Karen told me I would love it. Trusting her judgement, I gave in and purchased it. And then Stephanie walked out and started talking, and holy hell was I in full on fangirl crush mode. She’s smart, funny as hell, and she brought her husband along to talk about Etienne, so how could you not adore her? (Plus she reminds me of my friend Kat, who is one of the two people I want to be when I grow up. The other is the ever brilliant Ashley Harp, in case you were wondering.)
I loved this book from the start. And not just because it mentions my hometown, Chattanooga, TN, and Anna wears a Mayfield Dairy tee with the Jersey cow on it (and yes, I do know the name of the cow without having to look it up!). It’s because this book felt so much like my life, you know, minus the whole Paris thing.
When I moved away to college, I wanted to go, but I was also terrified of being away from my mom and my friends and my town. Eight hours by car, almost as much by plane. I was always the kid who was supposed to stay close to home and my sister was the one who was supposed to go off and never return.
And then, like Anna, something amazing happened. I met a boy. He lived down the hall (not upstairs, and it was my second day there not my first, and he’s not an “English French American Boy Masterpiece” but you get the idea!). From the moment we met, we clicked. He made me laugh and had killer abs and didn’t make fun of my large collection of 80s and 90s music and he insisted that I call him at his parents’ every time I went home for a hurricane evacuation just so he’d know I was there safely. (I know, my husband kinda rocks!)
But he had a girlfriend (albeit a recent one) and I kinda sorta was dating someone I met right before I moved, but more importantly I was still nursing a big crush on an older boy I’d met online. (Yes, I know how dangerous that is, and no, even after 14 years of chatting online, we’ve never met in person, so you can save the lecture.) So, M and I became really, really close friends. So much so, that the RA on my half of the floor starting putting his name on the door along with my roommate’s and mine. I should’ve known then, but I was eighteen and clueless and used to not being the girl that gets the guy. Though I’m sure everyone else was just like, “Would you two get together already, ‘cause this whole spending every waking minute together and not dating is kinda dumb!”
Then one day a few months later while we were lying on my bed (‘cause it’s college and that’s what you do when your dorm is the size of kumquat) watching a much-loved bad 80s Halloween spoof movie, he slipped his arm around me. It still took us a few more weeks to actually decide what the hell we were to each other, but like Anna and Etienne, we eventually figured it out.
So, thank you Anna, for letting me fall in love all over again. It was a blast.