Studying abroad is one of the experiences that everyone should do in their lifetime if ever given the chance. Normally it’s a option in many colleges, but there are also high school programs available. Author Stephanie Perkins gives us those in Anna and the French Kiss.

Anna Oliphant is a seventeen-year-old who has experienced a rough few years with her parents divorce. When she’s sent to spend her senior year at the School of America in Paris, or SOAP, she braces herself for a long year in an unfamiliar country. It’s there she meets new friends, among them Etienne St. Clair. Anna soon finds herself attracted to him, but with St. Clair having a girlfriend, knows that she must learn to control her feelings.

Perkins did a great job of depicting the study abroad experience. Anna has homesickness and initially struggles to adapt in an unfamiliar country, which is eventually resolved when she makes friends. If you’ve ever studied abroad, it’s always comforting knowing you are not the only person who may feel the culture shock during the first few weeks.

The city of Paris is given character itself, with Perkins describing the numerous places that Anna and her friends visit. Having been there myself, it was easy to visualize the locations and the beautiful auras they cast on the city.

The most interesting element of the plot is the idea of Anna having feelings toward somebody who already has a significant other. This is no doubt something that has happened to almost everybody, or to somebody that you know. These situations can be tricky, because there has to be consideration of the fact that you can’t necessarily pursue the person the way you want to and whether to tell them or not. The best way to deal with it depends on the person. In Anna’s case, it wasn’t all about her relationship with St. Clair, but discovering a new perspective by being away from home for awhile.

All in all, I recommend this book to people who like novels about studying abroad mixed with some romance.