I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Also by this author: Anna and the French Kiss, My True Love Gave To Me, Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, Summer Days and Summer Nights
Series: Anna And The French Kiss #3
Also in this series: Anna and the French Kiss
Published by Penguin on 2014-08-14
Genres: Dating & Sex, Friendship, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
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“Stephanie Perkins’s characters fall in love the way we all want to, in real time and for good.” —Rainbow Rowell, Award-winning, bestselling author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last? 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.
It is a feat to put into words all of the things I am thinking and feeling about Stephanie Perkins’ Isla And The Happily Ever After. Friends, I have been in this blogging game long enough to remember when Anna And The French Kiss was first an ARC and when the buzz was just beginning to gain momentum. I remember when Isla was announced. I remember when Isla was delayed. I can tell you that I personally have been waiting a long time for Isla. It’s kind of like waiting for the promised land, but friends, I have come to the promise land (thank you thank you thank you Penguin) and oh my goodness does Stephanie Perkins deliver up one hell of an amazing contemporary young adult romance book. This book is why I love books about romance and love and growth and self discovery and the strange and twisted path it can take. Perkins has this real way with words, and ESPECIALLY with kissing scenes. Trust.
When Isla And The Happily Ever After opens, we come across Isla who has just had wisdom tooth surgery. She is totally hopped up on pain medications and comes across Josh, her longtime crush from school, at a cafe. Normally this is not a big deal, however, the two go to school in Paris and Isla lives in New York City. So does Josh. Still, they randomly, by chance are in the same cafe at midnight. Josh draws Isla and walks her home. Isla wakes up the next day and is amazed that she’s finally had the courage to talk to Josh. Speaking of which, she then heads back to school, SOAP, in Paris, and discovers that she has Josh’s old room. It’s like kismet. The two begin to interact more and more and then to date. AND THERE ARE KISSING SCENES AND THE FALLING IN LOVE. But also bumps in the road and setbacks. It is kind of perfect. Also, there are extraneous characters who are also perfect, like Isla’s sister Hattie who is a pain in the ass most of the time, but who also has an interesting relationship with Isla. There’s also Kurt who is Isla’s best friend and there’s no romantic feelings there also Kurt happens to be someone who is high functioning autistic. He’s a great character. AND ALSO THERE ARE SPECIAL GUEST APPEARANCES BY ANNA AND ST. CLAIR AND LOLA AND CRICKET. I cannot with how excited I was by that.
Isla is kind of the quintessential middle child. I am choosing to look at her in relation to her sibling pecking order. She has a lot of those stereotypical middle child characteristics. Isla is pretty chill and laid back for most of the book. She is not super over the top driven nor is she someone who requires all this attention. She gets along really well with her older sister but not so much with her younger sister. Further, Isla has self confidence issues. She’s very vulnerable, especially in comparison with Anna or even Lola, characters who seem a bit more together than Isla. Not that there is anything wrong with Isla, it was nice to see a character who is not entirely poised to take on the world. I have to say, one thing I loved about Isla was that one of her dealbreakers was how people treat her best friend, Kurt. I love that. I love that she is willing to put her friendship above her potential romances. She’s truly a great and multifaceted character. I mean, I could go on and on and on about how much I loved her as a character, but instead I will let you discover her for yourself.
You know, I could totally see why Isla was into Josh. He’s the definitely the artist type and that holds a certain appeal. He sees things uniquely. He also is a bit of a quiet bad boy. By this, I mean, he’s not an outright asshole by any means and he treats people decently, HOWEVER, he gets into all kinds of trouble at school. He has some trouble with following certain rules — like not leaving the country while at school. Still, he’s thoughtful and considerate and I liked him and Isla as a couple. YET, he is also kind of dense. For example, Josh is creating a graphic novel memoir of his life, kind of like Blankets and he lets Isla read some of it, only, lots of it focuses on his ex, who shows up in numerous X-rated scenes. Like, lol, I would not be a happy camper if my boyfriend handed me a graphic novel of his life with that kind of thing in it and neither is Isla. So yes, there’s some trouble in paradise. I do have to say that of all Stephanie Perkins’ leading me in her Anna And The French Kiss series, Josh is probably my least favorite. I mean, I am not saying that to say OMG I HATED HIM, because I loved his character, but yes, Cricket and St. Clair are my favorites forever and ever amen. I do have to say, I liked how Josh interacts with St. Clair and Anna. I won’t say how, but will say that it’s nice seeing how easily the friendship is portrayed on the page. And I do really have to say that I like Isla and Josh together. It’s nice seeing what has once been unrequited love become requited. Josh is a pretty good egg, at least for Isla.
You would think that I would have trouble connecting with Isla And The Happily Ever After given that my life situation is drastically different from Isla and Josh and that I do not have the options or did not have the options available to me that they did. Fortunately, I was able to look beyond those circumstances and deeply connect with Isla over her vulnerability. Throughout the book, Isla questions her relationship with Josh and why he even likes her. She’s really lacking in her self confidence. I hate to say that I could relate to that, but personally, I did. I knew exactly how she felt every time she feared not being enough for him. She’s a girl who does not have a solid plan in life. She does not know what she wants to do with the rest of her life. She does not have it all mapped out. She does not even really have a passion — unless you count reading adventure books. Yet, I could relate to all of that. At Isla’s age, I was similar. I did not have a real passion. I was not sure what I wanted to do with my life. I liked reading books. I did not really believe much in myself. Yet, Isla moves beyond that with more than just the help of a boy, and I loved that. So, yes, friends, I did really connect with Isla.
This book has so much going for it — swoons, “road trips”, kissing, vulnerable characters, comic book/graphic novel fans, Paris, New York City, cameo appearances, gripping writing, and much, much more. Run, do not walk, to your nearest bookstore or click on over to your preferred digital retailer and read Isla And The Happily Ever After now. I promise you will not regret reading this amazing conclusion to one of the best contemporary young adult trilogies. My heart is full after finishing Stephanie Perkins’ latest book.