I would have begged my parents to send me to boarding school had I read Anna and the French Kiss when I was sixteen.
But I didn't, and now I'm twenty-three and Paris-less (made that up).
But I feel like I've been living there because of Stephanie Perkins. I have seen readers buzzing about this series on Goodreads for quite some time; however, I didn't register that it was a trilogy until I started reading Lola and the Boy Next Door and found Anna's name.
And I slammed the book shut and grabbed my iPad, because I would NOT ruin Anna's story by reading Lola's first, and I could NOT wait until Barnes & Noble was open the next day to start it.
I really liked this story, and I liked it because Anna has a gap between her front teeth and because Étienne St. Clair is short. Which might seem silly, but I liked meeting a male character who seems tall because of his personality. And what I enjoyed most is reading about the fear of being alone and confused, because I used to hate being alone, but I used to hate to admit that I hated being alone much more.
"The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you."
I used to be fearless when I was younger. I read what I wanted to read, and I didn't care if people laughed or stared or called me a nerd. However, something changed when my parents moved me back to the city I was born in. I constantly worried about what people would think when I brought a book to class, so I stopped. When I went to college I noticed people giggling at the hardbacks in my hand, and so I stopped. And then I started to believe people when they told me studying English Literature in college was pointless.
And you might say that I was weak and that I didn't really love books, because a real lover of stories would never stop reading because of other people.
But insecurity will eat you.
Most of my dreams were crushed for so long because of other people, but they were mainly ruined because of myself. I didn't know who I was back then, and I didn't know that the people I was hanging around with weren't good for me. And it took me losing all of those people to realize that I am stronger and more intelligent than I let myself realize. I'm so much more creative and loving and kind and sensitive than I allowed myself to be.
And I love writing Young Adult stories, and I love reading them. And I'm not ashamed to carry around Fangirl in my purse for weeks. It's okay to like whatever you like. And I will not judge you if you enjoy James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man even though it's boring as hell (to me). Brilliant, but boring as hell.
"It's strange. Home. How I could wish for it so long, only to come back and find it gone."
I have felt this way so many times, and when I read this line I was reminded of how I used to wish I could stay in Oxford, MS forever. And then, all of the sudden, it didn't feel like home anymore.
It felt foreign and dull and lacking. And I couldn't get out of there fast enough, because I was suffocating. I was choking on clouds. It felt like all of my dreams were in every other place but where I was. I felt like it was holding me back. I was constantly repeating my days.
And I don't want to repeat my days. I want to write about new characters and new adventures and new places every week. I want to sit in coffee shops and book stores and McDonalds with people who think my stories are wondrous. I want to seek out other writers who want to help me become better, and I want to read their work.
I'm so glad Stephanie Perkins created a character who struggled with her fears. Anna doesn't like being alone, and she doesn't understand why she feels homesick when she's at home. And her love for film forces her to leave her safe spot and learn French and become strong and confident.
And my love for words has done the same. And my friends' love for my words has done even more.