I've heard raves about this book everywhere, and it has been on my to-read list for well over a year now. Unfortunately, it isn't available at either of my libraries, and I just didn't want to pay full price for it. I finally snagged it on a flash sale for just a couple of bucks...and of course I started reading it immediately.
I was pleased to find that I enjoyed Anna and the French Kiss as much as I'd hoped. The characters are fun, and surprisingly relatable, given that they attend a boarding school in Paris. Anna is my favorite type of YA book--one that brings back memories of exactly what it was like to be a teenager-- but more of the good teenage memories than the bad ones. This was also the kind of book that made me wish I could go back and have those adventures with my friends again (and do it better this time around!). None of the characters are too angsty or unrealistically dramatic, which can get annoying very quickly.
And of course, I must mention the romance, the quintessential part of so much YA fiction. The relationship between Anna and St. Clair is appropriate (mostly, anyway) and believable (for teenagers in boarding school). Their interactions were sweet and fun and not too incredibly intense. Again, Anna is the type of book that brings back only the best teenage memories.
If you haven't read YA in years (since you were a young adult, perhaps) but think you might like the genre, I highly recommend Anna and the French Kiss as an excellent place to begin. (And I hear Stephanie Perkins's newest title, Lola and the Boy Next Door is just as good!)
Although I spend a lot of time thoroughly confused--either by the unreliable narrator, the unfamiliar phrasing (the book is translated from its original Dutch), the things intentionally left unsaid, or the time jumps (the narrator will slip into a flashback without warning)--it became easier once I settled into the voice and quirks of the book.
I would have said the book itself was just okay, but upon finishing, I kept thinking about it for quite awhile. There are several themes addressed, even if not directly. Questions about the outcasts of a society, the issue of racism, mental illness, etc. The ultimate question posed by the story, and the one that really has me thinking is this: How far would we go to protect our children?
Sometimes, after a string of particularly intense or thinky (that's a technical term, you know), I'm just in the mood for some light, fun chick lit. Keeping Secrets in Seattle fit that bill perfectly. I was afraid it might be too much of a "My Best Friend's Wedding" takeoff, but I forgot about that comparison pretty quickly.
The best part of this book, for me, was the characters. Violet is not your typical skinny blonde bombshell, girl-next-door type, which is a welcome departure from the lead in so many romances. I would totally want to be friends with her, Betsy, and Kim...they're awesome!
Spring break is quickly approaching, and I suggest adding this title to your fun reading list.