At a Glance
Title: Anna K: A Love Story
Author: Jenny Lee
Published: March 3, 2020 by Flatiron Books
Genre: YA, Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Retelling
Goodreads Rating: 3.79 out of 5
My Rating: ★★★★
“At seventeen, Anna K is at the top of Manhattan and Greenwich society (even if she prefers the company of her horses and dogs); she has the perfect (if perfectly boring) boyfriend, Alexander W.; and she has always made her Korean-American father proud (even if he can be a little controlling). Meanwhile, Anna’s brother, Steven, and his girlfriend, Lolly, are trying to weather an sexting scandal; Lolly’s little sister, Kimmie, is struggling to recalibrate to normal life after an injury derails her ice dancing career; and Steven’s best friend, Dustin, is madly (and one-sidedly) in love with Kimmie.
As her friends struggle with the pitfalls of ordinary teenage life, Anna always seems to be able to sail gracefully above it all. That is…until the night she meets Alexia “Count” Vronsky at Grand Central. A notorious playboy who has bounced around boarding schools and who lives for his own pleasure, Alexia is everything Anna is not. But he has never been in love until he meets Anna, and maybe she hasn’t, either. As Alexia and Anna are pulled irresistibly together, she has to decide how much of her life she is willing to let go for the chance to be with him. And when a shocking revelation threatens to shatter their relationship, she is forced to question if she has ever known herself at all.
Dazzlingly opulent and emotionally riveting, Anna K: A Love Story is a brilliant reimagining of Leo Tolstoy’s timeless love story, Anna Karenina―but above all, it is a novel about the dizzying, glorious, heart-stopping experience of first love and first heartbreak.”
Anna K, is a retelling of Anna Karenina, that is a solid fact. However, it’s less of a retelling in the sense that instead of being adults, like in Anna Karenina, the main characters happened to be teenagers, all of which happen to be apart of the social elite in Manhattan. While the plot itself mimics Anna Karenina, the story, characters, and feel of the book is more Gossip Girl, to me at least.
Before I go to far into my review for this book, just know three things.
- I barely read romance books. I don’t tend to gravitate towards love stories. I find them sappy and sometimes annoying. If I do read a romance it will generally fall into the fantasy or historical fiction genres.
- I love a good YA book but generally perfer a YA book with a magical or sci-fi components.
- Gossip Girl was one of my favorite shows growing up.
Basically what I’m saying is that Anna K, is not a book I would normally pick. Which is great because I initially got Book of the Month to help branch out of my comfort zone. However, it’s a lot harder to win me over with this book, so you’ve been warned.
Anna K and her friends are all way wealthier than I will probably be in my entire life. They’re rich kids with very rich kid problems. They party, fly on private jets, show dogs at Westminster all while going to top notch private schools and basically being unmonitored all of the time. What could possible go wrong. Everything, everything goes wrong.
As entertaining as I found this book to be and slightly unrealistic (at least to me because I wasn’t raised as a rich kid in Manhattan) there is still an attempt at depth. Lee covers a lot of what it’s like to be a teenager dealing with emotions such as love, lust, and figuring out the difference between the two. Which honestly, most adults don’t even know the difference. She also did a fairly good job of following the original classic without just throwing random things into the mix that don’t fit just to be similar. I liked the extra departure from the original book. Keep in mind it’s been years since I read Anna Karenina, so maybe I’m just not remembering clearly.
I really enjoyed the writing style of jumping between character perspectives. I know to some it may be confusing because you never know who’s perspective you have when switching paragraphs, but for me it added to the ‘dramaaaaa’.
All the characters were well developed. They each had individual characteristics, ticks, and thoughts that really made them stand out from each out. I could envision Bea with a sly smile or even Dustin’s nervous stutter. All the characters just worked for me. My favorite character was Beatrice, while not a main charcter, she’s sort of a good villain. The devil’s advocate you might say. She’s wild, free, and funny. I want to be her friend. Eleanor of course is the worse charater and Lee made sure you would be incredibility annoyed by her. She’s the actual devil in disguise.
Past individual characters though, I really enjoyed seeing the relationships be established and grow between the various characters. The contrast between the Stephen/Anna versus the Kimmie/Lolly relationship really puts it into perspective how different siblings can be. Not just personality wise but also the way the dynamic shifts. It’s a good reminder that no two sibling relationships are the same.
Overall I liked that book. I hear there is a sequel coming out, and while I will most likely put it on my list to read, it won’t be something I’m dying to get my hands on. ★★★★
Another note: while this book is labeled as a YA, which it is. It’s an older YA book, with lots of references to drugs, sex, etc. Definitely not for a 13 year old, but at the same time maybe? What do I know, I don’t have kids.
This book is out now! If you think you’d like to read this book, get your copy HERE!
I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on Anna K. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof_books.
About the Author
Jenny Lee’s first young adult novel, a modern reinvention of Anna Karenina titled Anna K., was published by Flatiron Books in 2020. She previously served as Co-Executive Producer for the BET television adaption of Boomerang. She was a writer and producer on the ABC Family sitcom Young & Hungry as well as the Disney Channel’s number-one-rated kids’ show Shake It Up. The author of four humor essay books, Jenny is also the author of Elvis and the Underdogs. Lee is represented by Paradigm on behalf of Sally Wofford-Girand of Union Literary.
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