Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Romantic Heroines in YA: Anna and the French Kiss

A few weeks ago, I read Stephanie Perkins's excellent book, Anna and the French Kiss.

Why did I love it? It might have been the super-cool boarding school Anna attends. In Paris. It might have been the author's use of Paris as a setting - the Latin Quarter, the Pantheon, Notre Dame and Shakespeare and Co all come to life beautifully. It might have been the romantic lead - a French-English-American guy who is (gasp!) shorter than his leading lady.

It might even have been how the author managed to make friendship the main theme of a YA romance novel.

But mostly, it was Anna herself.

Anna likes film. She's funny. She has in-jokes with her best friend, she has crushes, she wants to be a film critic, she worries, she is left-handed and she has a gap in her teeth and a bright slash of dye running through her dark hair. She is mortified by her father's writing career and loves her mom and brother.

She is a well-rounded and definite character. Someone I can imagine meeting for tea, someone who has a life beyond the boy she likes.

She has a life, an identity and goals.

There has been a lot of criticism recently of books that treat their female heroines as mere receptacles for love, sitting passively by until the perfect man floats past and deigns to gaze on her,

Feck that. Give me Anna Oliphant and her film blog (which no one reads) any day of the week. While she makes some mistakes and bad decisions in the novel, she is a very real person and I think in spite of her mistakes, she is a positive role model. Because she's real and rounded, not passive and dull. I haven't been a teenager in almost ten years, but I adored this book as a 28-year-old and as a teen, I would have devoured it.

Can anyone recommend any other YA novels with well-rounded heroines?


  1. I adore Anna.

    I would absolutely recommend the follow-up, Lola and the Boy Next Door.

    And Searching for Arthur, but that is mine so of course I would :P!

  2. Also try Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.

  3. I'm ashamed to say I haven't read it yet. It's now on my list.

  4. I haven't heard of the book before, but Anna sounds like an infinitely better adjusted person than, oh... that one who spends her time around sparkly vampires and wet-dog boys.

  5. I hadn't realised you were back blogging! Loving the 'how to write about Ireland' posts, but also this, because 'Anna and the French Kiss' is one of those YA books that just brings the joy. Highly recommend Stephanie Perkins's follow-up, 'Lola and the Boy Next Door', if you haven't already tried it. And Jeri Smith Ready's 'Shade' trilogy, which has Aura, a girl who, yes, is caught between two boys, but also has a personality and interests and conflicts beyond that.


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