Books are an amazing source of life lessons and love advice, so why don’t we learn from them? Esmée will recount to you what she has learned and what you should keep in mind while finding your way through the obstacle course that is life.

Being a teenager is hard, but being a teenager in love makes for such great reading fodder. Almost every YA book deals with first loves, friendships and heartbreak. I can’t seem to get enough of these hormone-ridden stories in which everyone is being led by their emotions, making dumb decisions and stupid mistakes. Stephanie Perkins wrote a series called Anna and The French Kiss about a young girl going to boarding school in Paris, the city of love, which leads to all sorts of romantic bits. In the second book we focus on Lola, who works with Anna at a movie theater in San Francisco and the third goes back to Paris again where Isla is in love with Anna’s friend Josh. So the stories interconnect in a nice way, all focusing on young, intelligent and often rich white people. Although this might not be the most universal story imaginable, there are some lessons we can draw from these works of fiction, that can help all of us in our lives.

Anna

Never trust musicians. They will ALWAYS break your heart.
I’m not sure what has happened to Stephanie Perkins that makes her hate musicians this much, but it is a very obvious rule she wants us to live by. First Anna is in love with Toph all the way from back home, while she is in Paris. Even though they only kissed and they barely talk to each other while she’s gone, Anna is sure they are in love. When she goes back to America, she finds out Toph has been less than faithful. And then we have Lola, who dates the older Max, the singer and lead guitarist in a rock band. Of course, at first he’s amazing, but as is the case with all musicians, he turns out to be a bit of an ass. So let’s just listen to Perkins and stay away from musicians altogether.

Run away when things get too tough to deal with. People won’t understand, but things will turn out alright.
They all do this! It bothered me so much. Whenever things get tricky or difficult, maybe with boys or with friends, Anna, Lola and Isla decide to run away. And not the run-away-from-home kind, but the i-can’t-take-it-anymore-they-can’t-see-me-cry-oh-wait-i’m-already-crying-let’s-run kind. Although all of the girls find that running away is not the right way of dealing with their problems and later, when their emotions have had time to run wild and they’ve calmed down, they see this. But this concerns me. Girls, don’t run away to make sure people don’t see you cry or to avoid confrontation. Talk about your problems and avoid crazy misunderstandings, which leads to…

Lola

Not everything is what it seems, so stop freaking out
Perkins often does this. She makes the love interest do something that can be thought of as horrible/terrible/despicable and makes you turn against him. She does this with St. Clair going back to Ellie, with Cricket ignoring Lola and with Josh pretending that he doesn’t have a girlfriend. All the girls freak out immediately, think the worst of it and start to wallow in self-pity. But when they finally talk to the respective ghastly, despicable human beings, it turns out they were having problems of their own, or trying to protect their loved ones. To speak in the words of John Green: ‘Use your words!’. Talk to each other when something you don’t like happens. It really isn’t all that hard.

Boys have exes and that is fine
If you find a boyfriend, one that is loving, creative or British and definitely not a musician, don’t worry about his exes. It is completely fine if your boyfriend had a life before you, as long as that life is actually something from the past. So don’t be an Anna and get involved with a boy who is still dating someone, because that will definitely cause some problems. But if the guy broke up with the girl and then you find his graphic novel in which there are drawings of his naked ex, don’t freak out! He liked someone before he knew you were an option, it doesn’t mean he still likes her.

Isla

Never bring a second pair of glasses
Sometimes it’s good to be a girl in need, because cute boys will want to help you. Now I know we are all feminists and extremely self-sufficient, but isn’t it nice when a boy can be your knight in shining armor and help you out? If your glasses break because some drugged-up co-worker stomped on them, you’d better hope a cute boy will walk you home instead of said co-worker. You might get some smooches out of it.

It’s ok if you don’t know what to do with your life, because we will all live happily ever after
This is the most reassuring that Stephanie Perkins is ever going to be. Isla has no clue what to do with her life, even though she is surrounded by people who seem to have their entire lives mapped out. Some are getting married, others are artists, cartographers or designers, but Isla can’t even decide what university to go to. And that is all completely fine. Sure, it’s nice when you know what to do with your life, but even when you don’t, things will have a way of sorting themselves out. Don’t be afraid to try out new things or to make mistakes, because in the end we will all live happily ever after.

Now these books contain many more life lessons and definitely a lot of advice on what not to do, so if you have any questions about how to deal with a certain recognizable situation, just leave it in the comments and some advice will come your way. Also, if you learned anything from Anna, Lola and Isla, please share your wisdom with us!

Author

Esmée de Heer is head honcho over at the Bored to Death book club website, writing the daily content and making sure the site stays up and running. She's one of the founding sisters of the book club and enjoys reading and giving unsolicited love advice.

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