|First Loves ♥ [Stephanie Perkins]|
And even if I can't say I've been through what either Anna or Lola have, it gives my not-so inner romantic hope. That one day, I too shall stumble upon a St. Clair or Cricket. Are you ready for some incoherent gushing? Because, yes, that's what I'm about to do. This makes absolutely no sense.
|CAPTION [Stephanie Perkins]|
Anna and the French KissWith everyone on my flist, raving about this book, it was only a matter of time till I actually picked it up and because I was struggling with the second A Song of Fire and Ice book, I figured a little YA in between chapters would ease the reading and true enough, Anna and St. Clair's Parisian love story did.
Anna Oliphant has big plans for her senior year in Atlanta: hang out with her best friend, Bridgette, and flirt with her coworker at the Royal Midtown 14 multiplex. So she is none too happy when her father sends her off to boarding school in Paris. However, things begin to look up when she meets Étienne St. Clair, a gorgeous guy–with a girlfriend. As he and Anna become closer friends, things get infinitely more complicated. Will Anna get her French kiss? Or are some things just not meant to be? [Amazon]First of all, I'm totally jealous of Anna and her Parisian studying ways. To study abroad has been one of my biggest dreams and though I've taken exams upon exams for scholarships, it's never happened for me. So having Anna live that dream of mine makes me love her already (even if her dad was uber rich and just paid her way).
And still you could feel for her and why she wouldn't want to move away from home or go somewhere to make her dad happy. her dad, by the way, totally reminds me of Nicholas Sparks, just because his novels seem to be her dad's novels too. I could be making this up, but I was totally thinking of him the entire time. And I like how we get snippets of her mom and brother too. They are of course, in high school so parents would make a big impact on their lives.
And though it was a pretty big part of the story, I didn't give much importance to the Bridgette storyline, even though I totally called Bridgett and Toph ending up together, I was too fixated on Anna's life in Paris to really focus on her life back in the US. Though of course, a lot of that is what pushed her to really immerse herself in France anyway. It does suck when your best friend and the guy you liked end up together, but hey, she got the boy in the end too.
Then there are her friends or rather St. Clair's friends, Josh and Rashmi (I'm thinking we won't see the last of Josh just yet with the third book but that's all speculation, yes?) and Meredith whom I just relate to completely just because she's the girl in the friend zone who can't seem to get out of it and whom St. Clair just doesn't like that way but pines for him anyway.
I like that St. Clair was taken and by a perfect girl of course, in the form of Ellie -- all sophistication and class. Though we see things through Anna's eyes, it's nice to get glimpses into St. Clair's relationships to his arse-holeish dad and his sick mom whom he loves beyond words. Seeing Anna come to terms with the relationships he struggles with as well was a good read just cause it wasn't all silly stuff. There were some pretty serious business things handled as well without being too serious.
But really, I loved the Anna/Etienne dynamic. How she called him Etienne but would revert back to St. Clair when she was angry. How he gave her the book of love poems. How they'd watch movies together and explore Paris. How he'd order food for her in the cafeteria. How she'd call him throughout the break to check up on him and his mom. How they made out in that park. How they spent the night together Thanksgiving!!!
Basically, these two were pretty hard to let go off and I loved how they slowly but surely got together -- ditching Ellie and just fixing their own personal issues before finally getting together. Though Etienne may be lacking in height, he made up for everywhere else. Suddenly, French-Brit-American boys got even hotter (if that was possible).
|CAPTION [Stephanie Perkins]|
Lola and the Boy Next DoorJust when I thought I couldn't ever let go of St. Clair and Anna, I totally fall in love with Lola and the oh-so-adorable Cricket Bell. And the best part? We don't have to let go of Anna or St. Clair cause there's a lot of them here. How brilliant of Stephanie to include them so seamlessly.
For budding costume designer Lola Nolan, the more outrageous, the outfit - more sparkly, more fun, more wild - the better. But even though Lola's style is outrageous, she's a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins move back into the house next door.I really do wish I had boys like this next door. Our houses aren't exactly like they are in SF where they're up close (enough to cross with a bridge made of shelves) but the boys were NOT this cute either. If St. Clair was adorable in his French-Brit way, Cricket's your all-American literal boy next-door with geeky smarts and fashion sense and lots and lots of height.
When the family returns and Cricket - a gifted inventor and engineer - steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door. [Amazon]
Of course, there's our lead girl Lola Nolan with her costumes and wigs and pizaz! I wish I were half as cool as her, complete with knowing how to sew and just having the guts to be totally out there. Lola wouldn't be Lola if she didn't have her dad's support and how very SF of the story to have two dads, Andy and Nathan who I just want to hug every time I see them. They totally remind me of my uncle and his partner and so they hold a special place in my heart already.
There's also Norah, Lola's biological mom who also happens to read fortunes. I haven't had mine read but I do own a deck of tarot cards and though we only do it for fun, and I'm horribly bad at reading (having to refer to the book the entire time), they've been eerily real but I do believe Norah when she says it's about reading the person too. I'm glad she was there to serve as a buffer when things got too heavy, even if they were mostly because of her.
Then of course there's Cricket Bell and his twin sister, Calliope, who I initially didn't like very much, but grew to like anyway. I was actually thinking she'd be the subject of the third book, so that we'd still get Anna and St. Clair and Cricket and Lola but I trust Stephanie when she chose isla. Nevertheless, the entire Calliope not wanting to lose her brother is something I can totally relate too and though I'm no champion ice skater, I'm sure I'll be the neurotic sister when the time comes that my brothers find their Lolas.
Lola's best friend, Lindsay was also fun to read about though we didn't get as much of her. I like that they dress up as each other Halloween and I like that they had nicknames for each other. Someone I didn't like? Max, naturally. How stereotypically villain-y of him to be the bad boy with the angst and the one the parents don't like. It would have been great if Max was totally perfect too but I'll take it. I was just glad when Lola finally got rid of him.
But really, you know it all boils down to Cricket and Lola. Where Anna longed for St. Clair while he was with Ellie; Cricket yearned for Lola while she was with Max. Oh to be desired the way these characters did for their partners. I thought Cricket and Lola were adorable in all their window talking and pannier building and commuting to see each other on weekends (and in their dorm rooms). I loved how they gave each other nicknames (Naked Tiger Lady) and weren't too shy to admit to their feelings straight up and yet were too damn attached to not be friends (even if WE ALL KNEW they were more than that).
I loved how Lola would notice how he dressed all the time, from the rubber bands to the skinny pants and how Cricket would always make up reasons to be with Lola. How even if he was taking care of Abby, he still made time for her and would stand up for her. I loved how Lola was supportive of his talent even without the pedigree or the entire Alexander Graham Bell-idea stealing (something I didn't know, you learn something new!)
And if you read through all that mumbojumbo, give yourself a pat on the back because I am horrible with these 'book reviews' when my brain is all scattered and I just really want to re-read and relive the awesomeness of these characters. Long live, YA and Stephanie Perkins. She's totally lit the flame in my heart again!!!
Don't even ask me to choose which one I liked more because they're just like your kids, you really can't choose a favorite (or can you). They both are such lovely books and characters and stories that I'm just really looking forward to the third (and last) book, Isla and the Happily Ever After. This is actually a series I wish wouldn't end.
Even More Page Turner:
Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
A Song of Ice and Fire - A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin