Mallory Dobry ’17 // Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
In the past several years, there’s been a clear influx of attention toward the Young Adult book genre. A number of novels have made the jump from the Bestseller List to the big screen, raking in millions at the box office. While most of those films are science fiction and fantasy driven, such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner, more novels in the realistic fiction realm of the genre are rising to popularity. With the recent popularity of authors like John Green and Gayle Foreman, whose novels The Fault In Our Stars and If I Stay, respectively, were turned into films in 2014, there has been a larger focus on novels of that nature.
However, an author whose novels haven’t been as deeply discussed is Stephanie Perkins. Perkins is the author of Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Isla and the Happily Ever After and the editor of the holiday short story anthology My True Love Gave To Me. While her books garner lots of attention from avid YA readers, they remain some of the shiniest hidden gems within the genre, and here’s why:
1. The Characters
Each of Perkins’ books centers around a young girl—Anna, Lola, and Isla—and the particular situations that lead them to finding love. For Anna and Isla, it’s studying at the School of America in Paris (SOAP, as the kids call it), an international boarding school for American students. And for Lola, it’s a childhood friend moving back into the house next door to her. While these girls aren’t starting rebellions to overthrow oppressive governments or fight for their lives, they’re undoubtedly strong in completely different, just as important ways. These are real women, who could easily exist in the real world, solving real world problems. While the leads in these books are nothing short of spectacular, the love interests and friends of these characters jump off the page just as easily, leaving readers wishing they had people like them in their lives.
2. The Settings
Anna, Lola, and Isla’s stories take readers on a journey around the world, giving them a taste of many different cultures from Europe and the United States. Perkins’ novels take readers from the School of America in Paris, to Lola’s hometown of San Francisco, to Isla’s New York City, and her adventures in Paris and Barcelona. Perkins’ descriptions and the way she crafts the interactions these characters have within these settings allow readers to immerse themselves into these locations, taking them out of the real world, and deep into hers.
3. The Books All Tie In With Each Other
Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Isla and the Happily Ever After are technically not part of a trilogy, as they are each fully capable as stand-alone novels, but the stories and characters do overlap. The main characters of Anna, Anna and Etienne, appear in both Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After, and Lola and Cricket of Lola’s titular book, appear in the third of the unofficial trilogy. While each individual story technically closes off at the end of their respective novels, they continue to make cameos through the rest of the series that add more to the relationships already developed in earlier books, giving readers a little extra time with the characters they’ve grown to love.
4. Tropes And Clichés Are Flipped On Their Heads
Perkins’ novels contain all the right ingredients to fall into the clichéd YA romance category, however, she manages to combat all the tropes and clichés of a typical romance novel to make the story less about the romance and more about the girl herself, steering clear of “ugh”-worthy territory.
5. The Message
Any good book ends with a message that readers can carry off into the real world, and Perkins’ novels certainly do that as well. Each girl at the center of her novels experiences her own growth and change through the story, but they come together through one common message: be yourself, and be proud of who you are.
As the holiday season rolls around, the best way to reward a great semester, celebrate a much needed break, enjoy some down time, or just for anyone looking for great reads should consider checking out Stephanie Perkins and her books Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Isla and the Happily Ever After.