Goodreads: The Fire
Series: Northwest Passage #4
Source: Received from author
Published: August 2013
Twenty-two year old Kevin Johnson has dreams of going to grad school, but first plans to give himself a well-deserved vacation on an old family estate. His ancestors harbored a time travelling secret, however, and soon Kevin finds himself in the midst of the Great Fire of 1910.
The Fire returns readers to the magical world of John Heldt’s Northwest Passage series, a place where the past intersects with the present and characters have the ability to change not only their destinies, but also the destinies of the people they love. Though the plot may seem familiar from previous installments of the series, the characters make the story their own. Smart, caring, confident, and thoughtful, these are people with whom readers can feel comfortable, like talking with friends.
Though the cast proves varied and each character possesses enough depth to stand on his or her own, even when they appear only infrequently, the three standouts are protagonist Kevin Johnson and the two women he comes to love. Kevin, a recent college graduate, may seem at first a standard college kid– naively optimistic and perhaps a little overconfident–but he also shows real maturity, a trait not often granted to his age group. In fact, he sometimes seems meant to travel back to 1910, not because it is in his genes but because he seems so seriously focused on working hard, making a career, and building a family. And here we all thought millenials were entitled narcissists glued to the Internet.
The two women who help Kevin clarify his goals in life are Sadie and Sarah, respectively an orphan determined to better herself and a clever schoolteacher attempting to forge her own way. Though both find themselves drawn to the handsome stranger in town, neither ever falls into the trap of building their identity around the man they desire. Even Sadie, less confident in her abilities and charms than Sarah, continues to work toward her own dreams, apparently knowing that vision is very attractive indeed. Their intelligence, dedication, selflessness, and kindness inspire Kevin, so that their friendships are mutually beneficial. Even if you are not a fan of love triangles, this may be the literary relationship you were looking for–the one where the players already know themselves and do not expect someone else magically to complete them.
All this plays out against the charming background of 1910 in the western United States. Kevin jumps back in time from the year 2013, so readers get to experience the thrill of exploration through his eyes–it is a little like walking into Diagon Alley for the first time. Horses still draw wagons, men and women alike observe strict social codes, and the old red light district is actually in operation. Even as Kevin delights in the novelty, however, he comes to realize that the past is not strictly idyllic–women experience pressure to leave their careers for marriage and do not yet have to vote. Also, Kevin happens to know from history that the nation’s largest wildfire is about to rage through the town.
Fans of history, time travel, and romance are all sure to find something to please in The Fire. Filled with vibrant characters determined to live life to the fullest–even if that means changing the course of history–the book by turns delights, surprises, and touches. Readers will be eager to follow Heldt on his next literary journey.
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If You Like, Then Read is a feature where we offer reading suggestions based on books you already like, scheduled once a month. If you have more suggestions, feel free to tell us in the comments! You can check out the rest of these lists here.
Sarah Dessen is known for her contemporary romances featuring strong girls seeking to overcome personal issues. If you are looking for readers with a similar vibe, then look no farther!
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
One of my favorite contemporary romances, this story is brimming with heart. Jace and Samantha’s relationship grows slowly and naturally, leading to a romance in turns sweet and just a little bit sensual. Additionally, readers are introduced to Jace’s large family, and his younger brothers and sisters will win readers’ hearts as easily as Jace does (especially George!). A highly recommended read that offers just the right blend of fun and thought-provoking themes.
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Stephanie Perkins has a knack for writing romances that incorporate cliche fantasies (a love affair in Paris, France!) into wonderfully real characters and books. Anna, at times kind, funny, or a just a little bitter, faces the tough problem of falling in love with a boy who is already taken. The solution is hardly clear–to Anna or the boy–but the two and their friends embark on an amazing journey of self-discovery that will have readers cheering for them all the way.
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Smith writes a love story that takes place in the span of a single day. When Hadley Sullivan misses her flight to her father’s second wedding, she befriends a cute British boy sitting her row, and their relationship quickly blossoms into something more.
Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan
In this romantic fantasy, Manhattan-newcomer Elizabeth discovers she is the only person who can see the cute boy who lives down the hall. To the rest of the world, Stephen is literally invisible. With the help of Elizabeth’s younger brother Laurie, the two embark on a quest to cure Stephen’s curse. Along the way, they learn as much about themselves and each other as they do about the hidden world of magic. A bold story that tackles all kinds of love–romantic, familial, and frienship. Review coming to Pages Unbound in September.
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
After a bad car accident, Mia wakes up to find her body in a coma, but her consciousness outside. For a day, she watches doctors, friends, and family fight for her life, but ultimately realizes that she is the one who makes the real choice whether she stays. Part of her decision hinges on her relationship with her rock boyfriend Adam, who has a sweetly romantic side.
Goodreads: This Is What Happy Looks Like
Published: April 2, 2013
If fate sent you an email, would you answer?
When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O’Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.
Then Graham finds out that Ellie’s Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media’s spotlight at all costs?
With two characters struggling to hide their secrets and their vulnerabilities as they fall in love, This What Happy Looks Like is thoughtful contemporary romance that will appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen and Huntley Fitzpatrick. Indeed, the formula is a little familiar (characters have family problems that they initially hide from each other but then help each other work out), but the execution is lovely and the characters complex, so readers who enjoy the genre will find another book to love here. Smith also adds a unique touch by interspersing emails and conversations that Graham and Ellie share between traditionally written chapters, bringing readers into some of the more intimate aspects of their relationship.
Although What Happy Looks Like features a teenage heartthrob swarmed by fans and paparazzi, the tone of the book is a little mellow. It draws on the atmosphere of the small Maine tourist town in which Ellie lives, and the calm of the surroundings seems to seep into Smith’s writing. Even as Graham and Ellie run from the paparazzi, run from each other, run from their parents and manager, nothing is written as urgently as one suspects it must be.
Part of the point of the book, of course, is showing that being a movie star is not always as glamorous as it sounds—but if an author puts a movie star into a romance novel, a reader does expect it is to make the romance more exciting, evoking girls’ childhood fantasies of marrying their favorite celebrities. Smith succeeds so well at making Graham come across as an ordinary guy that his status as a movie star seems like a plot point more than part of his character. (Ellie has reservations about dating him and subsequently being in the public eye herself.) His being a star initiates events, but does not add much swoon-factor to his romance with Ellie.
In general, the romance is not swoony—few lines stick out as being romantically quotable. The real emphasis is on Ellie and Graham as characters, often individually. Both are complex and dynamic; they accomplish true growth during the story, ultimately strengthening their bonds with their parents and friends and coming to understand more about themselves. In the end, the exploration of their characters overshadows their romance, both thematically and plot-wise. This is hardly wrong, but it is surprising due to the romance-heaving marketing and may disappoint readers who go in expecting a little more love.
This What Happy Looks Like is cute and solidly written, great for fans of contemporary YA who enjoy light issue stories and a smidgen of romance. It is not highly original, but it will just hit the spot for people looking for chick-lit.
Discuss! Would you ever date a celebrity?
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Goodreads: The Selection
Series: The Selection #1
America Singer has her life planned out: she will marry her first love, Aspen, and the two will work together as Sixes, servants, to raise their family. But then America is chosen for the Selection, the television competition in which Prince Maxon will pick his future bride. Now she must decide between two men and two castes. If she chooses to compete again thirty-four other women, she has the chance of a lifetime, to become a One and change the corrupted politics of her war-torn nation.
My feelings about The Selection are pretty mixed and fluctuated rapidly during my reading of the novel. Until about page 100, I was tempted to DNF and understood why many readers have. The writing, to put it not so politely, is painful. The sentences are short and choppy and an inordinate amount of them being with “and.” Their content does not fare much better, as they contain protagonist America’s flighty and often selfish thoughts. In my notes, I pegged America in the first several chapters as “whiny” and “prone to panicking over nothing.” Although my assessment of her character does not change completely now that I have finished the book (and also the sequel The Elite), she does improve. After page 100, she begins to mature a little and even the prose reflects that. I was ultimately able to enjoy the novel as something of a guilty pleasure, crooning as America does over the luxurious lifestyles of the Ones and swooning a bit over guys.
And make no mistake: the dresses and the guys are what these books are all about. Marketing has pegged the series as a mix of romance and dystopia, but unless one is willing to call a society dystopian based primarily on the existence of a caste system, there is not much to panic about in The Selection. Yes, things are bad: people are poorly paid and often starving, social mobility is close to impossible, rebels keep attacking the palace, and a war has been raging internationally forever. The thing is, however, no one seems too worried. If the characters themselves seem to accept this all as a fact of life, are not too concerned about the draft or the rebels or their chances of dying, I find no reason I, outside the world entirely, should be. America and all her friends (enemies? frenemies?) in the Selection are all having catfights over who has the best dress and who most often makes out with the prince. The focus on them and their shallow concerns makes it difficult to believe the country has real problems. (It is possible this is intentional, that the Ones are attempting to distract the masses from their problems by offering
bread and circuses, but this possibility does not get played up.)
America’s biggest problem, of course, is supposedly which guy to choose. Her options are friend and longtime boyfriend Aspen, whom she was prepared to marry just days before being chosen for the Selection, and Prince Maxon, whom of course she has never met before the competition. A reader might suspect Aspen has the advantage in this little love triangle, but the reader would be wrong. Aspen barely makes an appearance after the beginning of the book and America spends her days fighting thirty-four other women for Maxon’s affections. This does not, however, stop America from believing Aspen is a factor, and apparently she is going to spend three books changing her mind every few chapters about which boy she loves, with no apparent provocation swaying her one way or the other. America is nothing if not a bit flighty. While I found her antics and concerns amusing and even bordering on interesting in The Selection, I began to tire of them in The Elite.
Is it even worth America agonizing over the decision? It is difficult to say. Aspen seems like a solid guy and America spends a lot of time outlining how much he cares for his family, how dependable he is, how smart he is. The reader, however, might also take note that he is proud and potentially sexist. He is ready to break up with America at the first sign she is providing for him, instead of letting him provide for her. Maxon is more of an enigma, unfolding as the book progresses. He creepily refers to everyone as “dear” and, of course, sees no problem in dating dozens of girls at the same time, but he does have some good qualities, including kindness and honesty. At the end of The Selection, I am Team Neither of Them But Leaning Towards Aspen, but that could change as the series progresses.
Despite the negative tone of this review, I am continuing the series. As mentioned above, I have already read The Elite at the time I am writing this. The Selection has a number of faults, which become more obvious the more I think about the book. It turns out it is remarkably easy to make fun of the writing, the plot, the characters…everything. However, if a reader is in the right mood, looking to settle down to a bit of fluffy reading about girls in ball gowns gossiping about guys, The Selection can be a lot of fun. I would not actually recommend this to anyone I know to read because I have a large mental list of better books to recommend, but I will not refrain from admitting I got a bit of enjoyment out of it.
Content Note: Minor swearing. Oblique references to sex.
If You Like, Then Read is a feature where we offer reading suggestions based on books you already like, scheduled once a month. If you have more suggestions, feel free to tell us in the comments! You can check out the rest of these lists here.
Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
L. M. Montgomery loves when friends fall in love–or at least the myriad of times it happen in her novel implies she does. Definitely check out her other series, beginning with Pat of Silver Bush and Emily of New Moon, if you enjoy her style. Of course, her protagonists tend to start young. Anne of Green Gables is an eleven-year-old orphan looking for a family to love her when her story begins, so you’ll have to keep reading the series to see her grown up and married.
The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce
Protagonist Alanna is a young girl disguised as a boy and training for knighthood when readers meet her in Alanna: The First Adventure. As her story progresses, she must overcome physical disadvantages and prejudice. She must also face her fears, including becoming vulnerable and falling in love. Tamora Pierce has written other series where friends fall in love, including the Wild Magic series and the Daughter of the Lioness books.
The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
Gail Carson Levine is known for her imaginative and spunky middle grade fantasies, and The Two Princesses of Bamarre is one of her most original. When Princess Addie’s adventurous sister falls victim to the Gray Death, Addie must fill her role as the “brave one” in the family and set off on a quest fraught with danger to find a cure. Along the way, Addie discovers something else: someone she is close to has fallen in love with her.
Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott
In this sequel to Eight Cousins, Rose Campbell is all grown up and returning home after two years of travel–and the would-be suitors are lining up. Will she choose someone suave and debonair or a steady bookish fellow? Also check out Alcott’s other books if you want to see more of her characters fall in love.
The Crimson Thread by Suzanne Weyn
In this retelling of “Rumpelstiltskin,” Bridget and her family move from Ireland to New York in 1880 in search of a better life. Bridget ultimately takes up work as a seamstress, but she needs a friends help to deliver the incredibly unique dresses that her father has promised her new employer. Read my review.
Goodreads: Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden, Vol. 1.
Note: This is a review of the entire series, translated to English.
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Takiko is angry with her father for spending so much time travelling while her mother was dying. In a fit of rage, she attempts to tear apart the book that kept him away from his family, his translation of “The Universe of the Four Gods.” Instead of succeeding, she is sucked into the world of the story, where she discovers she is the legendary Priestess of Genbu, charged with gathering the seven Celestial Warriors and summoning the god Genbu–if her enemies do not kill her first.
Review: Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden is only my second foray into manga, after Sailor Moon, so I am still learning the norms of the genre. Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden enthralled me however with its stunning artwork, its tightly-woven plot, and its honest look at what makes its characters tick.
The story opens in modern-day Japan, where the protagonist has a difficult home life, due to a dying mother, an absent father, and an unrequited love. Her father’s actions set up the circumstances that allow Takiko to journey to another world, where she finds she is more important and, in her opinion, more wanted than she ever was in Japan—she is the legendary priestess of Genbu, who will save an entire land. The heart of the story is in this magical place. Throughout the series, Takiko occasionally travels back to Japan, and although these scenes are important to advancing the plot and her character development, they are someone dry in comparison to the rest of the story.
Takiko does enliven even these chapters, however, with her heart and feisty attitude. She is not the most kickass of characters, at least in a physical sense, but a more passive approach to events suits her well because she is a priestess. Instead of just being “that important but useless girl everyone else has to protect,” she manages to contribute to the war effort and other crucial situations by boosting morale, using logic, and inspiring others with her dedication to during the right thing, no matter the personal cost. And, since she does know how to use a spear (or, the translation claims it is a spear), she does occasionally get in a good fight herself.
The other characters are just as complex as Takiko, both friends and enemies. Just about everyone has a complicated backstory that influences his or her actions throughout the series. Paternal relationships are a major theme, and several variations are explored. Relationships between siblings, friends, kings and subjects, and others are also highlighted. Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden, in addition to telling a good action-packed story, is very interested in how people work, and how they work together.
So although the plot ostensibly centers on a war, a rebellion, and a prophecy, much of the draw and much of the ultimate focus of the story is on the romance. Takiko has a wonderfully swoony suitor, who spouts wonderfully swoony lines. Their relationship grows slowly, building just enough tension to keep readers on the edges of their seats.
All this is illustrated with beautiful artwork. The characters, almost universally aesthetically pleasing, are drawn with fine lines and lots of detail. Watase adds some humor, however, but punctuating the gorgeous art with very cartoonish scenes, with embarrassed characters scrunching up their eyes or angry ones practically blowing smoke from their ears. Often, a character will make these panels funnier by commenting to the effect of, “What’s wrong with your face?” As if the person really is all scrunched up without visible eyes or nose.
Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden is an incredibly addicting series. As it showcases a world at war, it highlights what gives people hope and takes time from the magic and action to explore what drives each character, and how each character’s passion might contribute to a greater good.
Content Note: There are a few panels throughout the series that show topless females.
Goodreads: Tiger’s Curse
Series: The Tiger Saga #1
Summary: After a two-week stint as a circus employee, eighteen-year-old Kelsey is whisked off to India by a mysterious older gentleman to help break the 300-year-old curse on Ren, a Indian prince turned tiger.
Review: Tiger’s Curse sets itself up with an interesting premise and setting, but the book fails to live up to its promise. From the start, the writing is noticeably bad. The dialogue sounds fake and any sort of “showing” is completely lacking; readers must rely solely on Kelsey’s statements about whether things are frightening, intriguing, attractive, etc. because the descriptions and pacing that would bring those senses to readers do not exist.
Because of the poor writing, and also poor characterization, it is clear early on that if the novel is to succeed, it must do so on the merits of its plot alone. Unfortunately, it does not. Kelsey and Ren go on some standard quests that they complete too easily and which are not particularly fascinating. I skimmed what were probably intended to be some of the most intense scenes of the book because there is no real urgency and the obstacles the two face are not particularly unique or well-described.
Kelsey, however, is the novel’s greatest problem. Although she is eighteen and preparing to enter her first year of college, she sounds absurdly unintelligent and immature. Furthermore, she is incredibly passive, and often sits around tanning or drinking lemonade while other people do the real work—making camp, solving the mysterious prophecy, etc. Basically, her presence is necessary for the tiger’s curse to be defeated, but she is otherwise of no real value. Frustratingly, the other characters, even those who are not the love interests, tend to praise Kelsey for her most annoying actions. She’ll make a particularly obvious observation, and someone will beamingly praise her for her unparalleled intelligence. The novel puts a lot of effort telling readers how clever and brave and heroic Kelsey is, but she always exhibits the exact opposite qualities.
The one place Tiger’s Curse shines is the romance—but only on Ren’s end. He is fairly swoon-worthy, a handsome cursed prince always interested in Kelsey’s comfort and safety. I could imagine some readers finding him “over-protective,” but I never did, perhaps because Kelsey’s foolishness merits people needing to constantly watch over her. He also has some beautifully romantic lines and scenes.
Kelsey, however, is another matter, as she immaturely decides Ren cannot possibly love plain little her and decides to push him away. Instead of perhaps discussing it with him or believing he has the intelligence necessary to make up his own mind about such things. Such forced “drama” is always annoying in books, as it is an obvious ploy to build false suspense by dragging the romance out over a series. This time, however, it really backfires because Ren’s romantic gestures are the only things I like, and apparently they will be missing from the second book. I won’t be reading it.
There are a lot of good ratings for this book, and it certainly has its share of fans. If you are looking for a bit of romance, you will find it here, and it’s pretty good. If you want anything else from the book, you’ll have a bit of trouble.
Published: January 2011
Series: Newsoul #1
Summary: In Range, there have been a million souls for 5000 years. When they die, they are reborn—until the year Ciana dies and never comes back. In her place, Ana, a newsoul, is born. Half of Range is unwilling to forgive her for it. Knowing she is blamed for Ciana’s disappearance, Ana travels to the city of Heart and the library to search for answers about her new existence. Yet someone there does not want her to find them.
Review: Meadows builds a compelling and imaginative world in Incarnate, bringing readers to a place where everyone lives multiple lives and everyone knows everyone else. Readers will be fascinated, pondering what it might be like to have infinite time to accomplish everything they have ever dreamed or how interesting it would be to meet the inventors of literally every great invention. Meadows also gives readers much to think about in their own mortality. Eighty years to her characters is a very short time; readers should learn to make the most of their own lives.
Ana, the protagonist, walks the line between souls and readers. As a newsoul, she has no idea whether she will be reincarnated like everyone else. As far she knows, she has one life to live the best she can—and as carefully as she can. She cannot risk the same heroics as the souls. It takes some time, however, before Ana comes to a point where she might consider heroics at all. For a large portion of the book, she is defensive and distrusting—understandable due to her abusive upbringing and the frequent hatred she encounters from people whom she has never even met. Some readers might find her early behavior unappealing, but it is in fact realistic considering her circumstances and may resonate with readers who have faced similar difficulties in their lives. Ana ultimately has a beautiful heart, which should endear her to a number of readers.
Helping Ana overcome her distrust is the kind and talented Sam, who of course fills the role of love interest. (This much is obvious from the scene where they first meet.) The romance in Incarnate is beautiful and caring. Sam might have the same issue as Edward Cullen, in that he is much older than the girl he would like to woo, but Meadows actually makes it work. Sam explains exactly why he has fallen in love with Ana, and it rings true.
Incarnate has a quiet and creative beauty about it, drawing readers subtly into a whole new world. The first part of the book is exploration; the second part brings in more intense plot elements considering Ana’s existence and the nature of the religion in this world. Altogether, a fascinating book that could stand well enough on its own, but is preparing to lead into an even more ambitious sequel.
Published: January 31, 2012
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Summary: Lola Nolan is happy. She has a fun job at the local movie theatre, a hot rocker boyfriend, and a blooming talent for creating clothes (or, in her words, costumes). Her peace is shattered, however, when the Bells move back in next door. Lola would love to keep hating Cricket Bell for leaving her two years ago, but with his growth spurt, his sense of style, and his determination to charm her, she might find that difficult.
Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door is funny, creative, and inspiring. Lola, a colorful personality, narrates the events of her seventeenth year, when next-door cutie/jerk Cricket Bell moves back into the neighborhood. Unfortunately, he is not as big of a jerk as Lola remembers, and despite her older, rock star boyfriend, she begins to find herself interested.
Like Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door is the perfect blend of beautiful romance and tough life issues. Less than ideal parents loom large in both books. Here, Lola is raised by her uncle Nathan and his partner Andy because her mother cannot seem to stop drinking long enough to get her life back together. Her boyfriend, and her friend Etienne (guest starring along with Anna in a return from Anna and the French Kiss!), also have parental problems. Perkins addresses these issues delicately, suggesting that parents are only human, while refraining from writing unrealistic life changes for them. The message continues to be clear, however: you are not your parents, or your ancestors, and you have the freedom and power to build your own better life.
Lola, like Anna, also faces some tough relationship dilemmas. She must navigate the issues of dating a much-older boyfriend, balancing time and loyalty between boyfriend and friends, and having feelings for two guys at the same time. Again, liking two people is a gray area that Perkins addresses with skill and grace. Young readers—any readers—can benefit from Perkins’s explorations of what makes a healthy relationship. Here, the trust of one’s parents, the boy’s kindness to one’s friends and interest in one’s life, and the boy’s ability to inspire one to be the best version of oneself are all labeled important.
Lola and the Boy Next Door is incredibly cute and fun and has a lot of truth to share about life. Perkins once again combines daydream fantasy (the boy next door, who has a window facing yours so you can talk at night!) with reality to write a perfectly balanced story.
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Goodreads: Anna and the French Kiss
Series: Companion book to Lola and the Boy Next Door
Summary: Anna is irate that her father has sent her to boarding school in France for her senior year of high school. He is forcing her to leave behind prom, her best friend, and a potential boyfriend to live alone in a country where she does not speak the language. Things begin looking up when Anna befriends the cute and charismatic Etienne St. Clair. The only problem is: he already has a girlfriend.
Review: Anna and the French Kiss is a really fun and romantic read, combining all the right elements to build an atmosphere that will make readers swoon. It has a romantic setting (Paris), an attractive and caring love interest (Etienne), and a relateable narrator (Anna). It also takes place in a boarding school—where the characters have the freedom to build relationships that are closer than at a normal public high school.
Behind the romantic daydream setting, however, there is a strong story populated by realistic characters who learn real life lessons. Anna’s voice is a great combination of kindness, humor, and teen bitterness (created when she is sent away from home). She sounds alternately mature and young depending on her circumstances, as all teenagers do; Perkins nails the adolescent voice and experience of being caught between childhood and adulthood. Anna experiences real homesickness and awkwardness in a foreign country, and the book is as much about her personal growth into culture and confidence as it is about her budding romantic relationships. Beside her is a great cast of friends—artsy, athletic, funny, and angry in turn. Together they figure out that friendship might not be always easy, but that they can make it work.
The romance, while certainly swoon-worthy, can also teach young readers how to build good relationships. Things are tough in Anna and the French Kiss. Etienne is not attractive because he has a girlfriend and is off-limits; he is just a guy who is handsome and good and kind and happens to be off-limits. All the characters do their best to respect that, but, as in real life, things get tricky when someone is still in a relationship but beginning to be interested in someone else. Important questions arise, such as When should you break up? And how much interest in another person counts as cheating? As teens—as humans—the characters struggle with these issues, but Perkins allows the characters to address them seriously and she herself treats them with thought and care.
Anna and the French Kiss is a delicious, yet thought-provoking read. It is the perfect combination of fantastical romantic situations (a boarding school in Paris!) and teenage reality. This is not a romance with issues tossed in to make it “serious.” It is a romance where issues occur naturally because the characters are human, but where the characters learn to deal with them as best they can and still find their happily-ever-after.
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