Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Title: Isla and the Happily Ever After
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: Hardcover, 339
Publication: August 14, 2014

Synopsis:
Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart. 

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

Isla and the Happily Ever After is the last book in Stephanie Perkins’ companion series, Anna and the French Kiss. I first started this series about three years ago, and absolutely fell in love with the books. While Anna and Etienne will always be #1 in my heart, I really enjoyed Lola and the Boy Next Door as well. So, suffice to say, I had very big expectations for this book. It did not disappoint.

First of all, I need to say that I feel like every single person who has ever had a crush on anyone can relate to Isla. I mean, I’d been in Isla’s position tons of times– daydreaming about a boy who I thought never knew that I existed. The only difference between me and Isla is that she ends up with the boy.

Readers of Stephanie Perkins’ books should be familiar with Josh. He is Etienne St. Clair’s best friend in Anna and the French Kiss, but because that story is told from the point of view of Anna, the readers don’t really get to know him. In Isla and the Happily Ever After, we get an in depth look at who Josh is. 

Like most teenage girls, Isla plays Josh up into something of a fantasy in her years of yearning for him, but when we really get to know him, we don’t just to get to see the good side, we get to see the bad too.

The build-up to Isla and Josh getting together was very small. In fact, I think it only took about 100-150 pages. I generally like a slow burn romance, so I wish Perkins would’ve spent more time building up that aspect of their relationship. But I think that she did this on purpose. This book is very different from Anna and Lola’s story in that Isla story isn’t solely about getting the guy. The way that I perceived it, Isla’s story also has deals with growing up (both emotionally and intellectually) and Isla finding herself. Josh and her relationship with Josh just kind of help that growing along.

Our fingers are in each other’s hair, and his breath is in the hollow of my neck, and I wish the world would swallow us here, whole, in this moment. And that’s when it hits me that this–this— is falling in love. -Pg. 98 

Another thing that I really loved about this book was how realistically her relationship with Josh is written. They don’t just get together and everything is better. They get together, go through a shit ton of problems, and break up along the way. Josh is self-assured and confident, but Isla is timid and completely unsure of herself, and through her relationship and break-up, she gains some insight into herself and what it means to be herself. I love that Stephanie Perkins can write a character that is both emotionally driven and strong-willed, something that, sometimes, isn’t that prevalent in YA romances. Isla’s story is about finding herself, and I love it.

Isla and the Happily Ever After is overwhelmingly romantic, heartwarmingly funny, and realistically messy. So, if you’re wanting to read a fun and romantic book with a swoon-worthy boy, I would look no further than Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins.

In short:
You know that book that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Well, this is that book.


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