Reading Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau is like eating a French croissant—light, fluffy, and perfect. The past month has been particularly stressful for me, and this novel was the ideal escapism.
For her entire life, Mia Jenrow has wanted only one thing: to be a professional ballerina. Growing up, she always believed it was in her blood. Her grandma told her countless stories of an unnamed relative who danced at the Paris Opera House (of Phantom of the Opera fame) and was painted by the famous Edgar Degas! To make this dream come true, Mia has sacrificed all aspects of a normal teenage life. No summer jobs, no weekends, no besties, and especially no boys. All her free time has been focused on dance, to her mother’s bitter disappointment.
Yet despite all that hard work, Mia was still rejected from her dream: the American Ballet Theatre’s summer program in New York City. Undeterred, she got accepted to a program in Paris and is determined to spend the summer doing nothing but dance. She quickly realizes that this will not be as easy as she thought. Her roommate is Audrey, the girl who’s always been her biggest competition. Audrey is a brilliant dancer, but she’s always looked down on Mia for not being as “serious” about the craft. Mia feels extreme pressure from her ballet instructor, who is unimpressed by her. And on her first day at the program, she meets a handsome French boy named Louis.
Louis is a textbook French dream boy. He’s got those dark curls, that sexy accent, the Vespa, and he wants to show Mia all his city of lights has to offer. He even offers to help her find the painting of her mysterious ancestor, if it really exists. It’s ridiculously tempting—suddenly she’s feeling everything she’s never allowed herself to feel before. But this is the worst possible timing! She only has six weeks to blow all the best ballet schools away! The more time she spends with Louis, the more her dancing starts to slip, and Audrey definitely notices. Mia knows she has to pull herself together, but even when she isn’t seeing Louis, she’s thinking about him…
In diving into this novel, I expected nothing more than fluff, and that is exactly what I got. This is a sweet, easy love story, and while Mia’s family dynamics and passion for ballet are briefly explored, most of the focus is on our lovebirds. They fall in love easily, and most of their problems are solved easily. No deep emotional trauma is explored. Most of the characters stay surface level, even Mia.
However, while I love deep books, I also loved taking a break to just have fun! Louis may be one dimensional, but he’s charming and completely adorable. Paris also comes to life in the author’s writing. I felt like I was walking the streets myself, drinking in all the sights and sounds.
Another favorite part of the book for me was the relationship between Audrey and Mia. Rivals-to-friends isn’t often explored in fiction, but it’s a great dynamic! These two’s contrasting personalities make their scenes so much fun. As someone who grew up in the musical theatre world, it was fascinating to see the ballet world and how performers in that world interact with each other.
Another complaint I have with this novel is a big twist that comes near the end. I won’t give spoilers, but for me, it was unnecessary and didn’t really fit the story. If the author had spent more time exploring it, it would’ve made the book much better overall, actually, but it was rushed, so it had no impact on me. However, I would say it’s far from a dealbreaker.
If you’re in a quarantine or reading slump and want to travel across the Atlantic, you should try this book!