Today, I thought I would try something new. I just finished Stephanie Perkins’ delightful novels “Anna and the French Kiss” and “Lola and the Boy Next Door.” There are quite a few reviews on these books out there already, so I decided to make this post less of a review and more of an author spotlight.
John Green recommended “Anna” a while ago, and while I rarely question that dude’s book recs, I was really putting off reading it because of the frankly lame title. LIIIIKE, I was totally judging the book by its cover. I am unfailingly cliched at times. It’s QUITE embarrassing.
Long story short: I walked into Barnes and Noble, $25 gift card in hand, dreams of Tahereh Mafi’s “Shatter Me” clouding my thoughts. I rode the elevator to the second floor where the woefully limited YA section was located. But there was no Mafi. Then, there were no recently added books on my Goodreads to-read list. I mean, NONE. When I spotted “Anna,” I picked it up and trusted my precious gift card to the wise words of John Green.
Four hours later, I WAS STRAIGHT WIGGIN’. It is SO GOOD, you guys! If you have ever considered reading Perkins, but then decided against it because of the weird titles like I did, I implore you to reconsider.
Perkins beautifully wrote a quick read that has all the romance of a YA novel, but with no cheesiness or cringeworthy mushy moments. She created a world in which I felt I naturally belonged. Her characters are deep and you can just tell that so much love and care went into bringing them to life. It’s witty, lovely, so thoughtful and honest. It’s not at all overdone or cliched, but rather, a serious meditation on a young person’s pursuit of finding oneself and redefining the personal meanings of home, love and friendship.
Her characters are so complicated and real that it’s easier to get lost in their lives than it is to get lost in your own. It’s exciting and hard to find characters that you can connect with on a deeper level. Perkins’ Anna, St. Clair, Lola and Cricket become so real to me (and I’d say other readers as well), sharing the same thoughts and emotions that everyone has at some point, that they almost stop being people on a page and become real (and I’m probably not crazy).
I love when an author’s passion for her characters emerges in her words so much that it almost becomes a separate entity. Like there’s the book, and then hovering somewhere above it is the love that Perkins’ has for her people. It’s so big and consuming that it can’t be contained to a mere page! I think that’s really difficult to get across to readers, and she did it from the beginning. I was taken with her from page one.
DISCLAIMER: Don’t read these books if you have like a bunch of work to do. Wait until the weekend. There’s not a warning label, but there should be. “Warning: You will be unable to put this book down until you’ve finished. Do homework first, trust us.”