Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Publishing Date: August 14
Genre: young adult, romance, travel
From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.
Three years of crushing on Josh could never prepare Isla for her embarrassing, drug-induced, loopy, spontaneous conversation with him in a Manhattan cafe. But while she curses her lost wisdom teeth for bringing her humiliation, Josh is nothing but ecstatic to find that she seems interested in him. Little does she know that he’s been, more or less, observing and crushing on her all this time in France. As their whirlwind relationship takes hold, they face things for more risky, more thrilling, and more mature than they’ve ever experienced — and pumping the breaks is not an option.
This was such a lovely end to the full relationship arc. In Anna and the French Kiss, we fall in love with falling in love — all the confusion and anxiety and butterflies and wonderful realization that yes, he likes you! In Lola and the Boy Next Door, we rekindle old love, fit the right pieces together, and experience a honest, easy relationship. And finally, in Isla and the Happily Ever After, we date our long-time crush, become overwhelmed with how easy and perfect it feels, and suddenly become frightened of the future and our insecurities. As promised, this book ends with a reunion — we glimpse Anna and Étienne, Cricket and Lola, and Meredith — and it’s such a great wrap-up.
Arc aside, I truly enjoyed this book as a stand-alone too. I loved it just as much as Anna. In Anna I loved her internal monologues, her sarcasm, and the entire “does he, does he not” experience. It’s universal and beautiful and made me squee. I’m STILL giggly over that book. And this book makes me feel the same, only in the actual relationship experience. From the high of falling in love, to the crushing heartbreak of facing the future and finding the whole concept of all-consuming love intimidating and frightening. Insecurities get in the way and blinds Josh and Isla of their potential, and it’s just so deep and heartfelt. Loved it. If Anna makes me giggle, Isla makes me hug the book. And both girls are my fictional kindred spirits.
I really enjoyed the secondary characters, here, too. Kurt, Isla’s best friend with high-functioning autism, is authentic and well-written. Their friendship is purely platonic — thank goodness — and completely plausible. His presence in the book serves a purpose, and I looked forward to his insight on the Isla-and-Josh relationship, too.
Read Isla. Not only is it a great ending for this trilogy/companion set, it’s a perfect standalone as well. And the two lovers are so deep, serious, loving, passionate, and caring. *sigh*
Thank you, Edelweiss, for providing this book from Dutton for review!