Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Stephanie Perkins

Posted by on Feb 13, 2012 in What I've Been Reading, Writing/Indie Life

This is more than a book review. This is a story of how I fell in love with a couple of books and the author behind them.

And this is a lesson in how much a writer learns simply from reading good books and then stalking the author in blogosphere and on Twitter.  (Not really, but kind of.)

You see, I’d seen the cover of Anna and the French Kiss numerous times. I’d come across it on blogs, in the library, and in book stores, and yet, for some reason, I kept passing it by. I have no idea why.

No, that’s not true. I know why. Kind of. I liked the cover and I loved the title, but I think I expected it to be too young of a Young Adult for me. I judged the story by its title and cover. I know that’s a terrible reason for passing by a book, except there are so many books out there begging to be read, sometimes that’s all it takes for someone to put off reading something, or worse, set it aside never to be picked up again.

That would have been a BIG mistake — HUGE — because I did pick up Anna and the French Kiss, and I. Loved. That. Book. After, I immediately grabbed Lola and the Boy Next Door. I loved it, too! So, ignore the reason I put off reading the book for now. We’re actually going to come back to that.

The reasons I loved both Anna and the French Kiss (Anna) and Lola and the Boy Next Door (Lola) are:

1. Characterization – Stephanie Perkins writes beautiful, colorful, and deep characters. They pull you into their lives and make you want to sing opera if it will help them reach their wildest dreams. I would read this beautiful love story again just to study why I loved Anna and Etienne St. Clair, and all of the other secondary characters so much.

2. Setting – Anna was set in Paris, France; Lola in San Francisco. San Francisco is my all-time favorite American city that I’ve visited. And Paris… Well, what can I say about the most romantic city in the world? Stephanie makes the reader feel like she’s walking in Paris right alongside her characters.

3. The writing – Stephanie Perkins’s writing is superb. She truly writes from all senses and drops you right into the story and into lives of her characters and all their tough decisions – the good, the bad, and the OH, NO, don’t do that!

After I read Stephanie’s books, the natural next step for a writer like myself was to discover more about her as a writer. I already followed her on Twitter, but I began stalking her blog and searching for the release date of her next book. That’s when I learned that all the stuff I loved about her writing is the result of a true love and passion for the craft. She cares deeply about each of her books. You can read about the release of her next book, Isla and the Happily Ever After here and you’ll see very quickly the depth of her love of words.

In that same post, Stephanie talks about her goal to tap into the adult romance market with Anna and Lola. This interests me. I want Stephanie and writers like her to succeed at this. There are some wonderful YA books out there that should blur the lines between Young Adult and Adult fiction. And Anna and Lola are two of them.

My concern comes when I think about why I skipped over these two books.

I attended a library discussion a couple of weeks ago (after I had read Anna and Lola) for “Adults reading Young Adult Literature.” And it was fascinating. A librarian and I got into a discussion about Anna and the French Kiss. She, too, had skipped over Anna at first, and was elated when she discovered Stephanie Perkins again. We both gave the books glowing recommendations to the other adult ladies in the room.

I wanted to write this post for two reasons.

#1 – I hope the adult romance readers (or YA readers who missed these two books like I did) reading my blog will think about these two books. They are so worth the read. Do yourself a favor in honor of Valentine’s Day and all things love – go buy these two books.

#2 – I’m wondering how to market books like these to adults. I’ve thought of obvious ways – tap into book clubs by attending or skyping or blog tours across adult romance blogs.

Word of mouth is always a fantastic way to spread good news, so this is me doing my part.

But I can’t help but wonder if there are some YA books out there that would benefit from different packaging in order to reach a different market. But the other part of me who has already read the books, now loves the covers and can’t believe I passed by them for any reason.

Maybe I’m just over-analyzing the whole thing.

And I promise, I’m not criticizing these books AT ALL. I loved them, and I want to seem them succeed even more.

So, if you have marketing ideas for books like this, let’s hear it in the comments. Or, have you read books lately that surprised you? What about them surprised you?