It was a Tuesday, late afternoon. Slow time of day for the YA section of the bookstore...
I approached with caution, careful to first walk past the teen books towards the calendars.
I turn, pretending to look for someone...it's clear.
I move quickly down the back aisles towards YA. (Why do they have to put the teen section in the front of the damn store?) I normally don't mind if strangers see me buying books with teenage girls on the cover, but today is different. I'm buying Anna and the French Kiss.
This book is so girly that the guy on the cover doesn't even have a head. Just a giant hand with creepy long fingers and a double jointed elbow. AND, "French Kiss" is on the cover. You understand why I'm in stealth mode?
I sneak around the corner. "Perkins...Perkins...."
Busted. She's so short I don't see her until it's too late. Our eyes meet, I look away hoping to quickly find a book with a dragon on the cover that I can pretend to be interested in.
Wait...did she look away, too? It's another adult. She's glancing at me out of the corner of her eye. She's wondering if I notice her...age. I do. Oh, yes...I do.
I feel better. I can find the French Kiss book now and she won't judge me.
I search through the shelves and find it. I've heard great things about this book. I momentarily forget what I'm doing and hold the book out for everyone to see as I stare at the cover wondering how much french kissing is actually in the book.
She comes around the corner and I feel her stop dead in her tracks. Out of habit I turn to see her, my mind hasn't recovered yet from French Kiss and I have a dumb ass smile on my face.
Her eyes fall on the book in my hand. She gives me "the look" and leaves.
I'm home now. It's a safe place, so I leave the book on my desk.
"Dad?" It's my 9 yr old daughter. She's staring at the book with a "gross" look on her little freckled face.
"It's not about french kissing," I stutter. "The story is in...France, or something...so...do you get it?"
"Yeah, but it looks girly."
"Don't you have homework to do?"
"Well...then you're grounded."
"I don't know...just get outta here."
She giggles and leaves. Kids.
I loved Anna and the French Kiss. It's not my kinda book, but I read it effortlessly and enjoyed every page of it. I chuckled through the entire read. I liked Anna. I liked all the friends. I liked the overall situation Anna found herself in.
I found the dialogue to be spot on. It didn't sound like an adult trying to sound like a teenager, dude.
I actually liked the boy. For once, a love interest that isn't a dumb shit. St. Clair is a cool dude. He's not an arrogant bad boy that treats Anna like she's worthless. I love that he isn't Mr. Perfect. He doesn't have enough integrity too NOT CHEAT on his long time girlfriend, but this (I believe) was dealt with in an appropriate way. He admits his mistakes. As I reader, I believe him...he didn't know what to do and he was scared. (I appreciate male characters that can admit these things...now we just have to get teenage boys to read!)
Why Guys Should Read This Book
It's funny. It's realistic. The female characters are likeable, realistic and attractive. Paris is cool.
There's a great contrast between two male characters that Anna is involved with that guys should learn from.
Dave is nice to Anna. He pursues her. She makes out with him. It's all he was interested in. He ends up being a dick face and telling everyone Anna slept with him. A real winner.
St. Clair is nice to Anna. They become friends. He falls in love, but doesn't know what to do. He screws up and let's it go to far. He admits his mistakes. He apologizes. He doesn't blame anyone else. He takes responsibility for his choices.
He says things like,
"No matter what a terrible boyfriend I was..."
"I'm sorry for what happened..."
"I've been so stupid..."
"You're the most incredible girl I've ever known. You're gorgeous and smart, and you make me laugh like no one else can. And I can talk to you..."
Take notes guys...take notes.