Book Name: Isla and the happily ever after
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Format: Paper back checked out from the local library
Goodreads’ Words: 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.
My Words: I loved Anna and the French Kiss. For me Lola and the Boy Next Door was okayish…But overall Stephanie Perkins has not disappointed me. I wasn’t expecting this one to be any different. And of course I was right, in most places. While Anna is still my favorite, Isla plays a very close second.
Perkins’ characters and writing style are genuine, whimsical, funny, raw in places, and sweet. Her characters have all been interesting and have also all had some development to them as each story unfolds. Isla and the Happily Ever After was no different. There was much to love in the setting and in the characters and story. There was some heartbreak, some points where the characters really had to face themselves and come to terms with who they were and who they wanted to be and decide what they would choose. There were parts that deeply touched me and others that made me frustrated and upset.
Their relationship certainly has its rocky moments. And Isla’s insecurity gets in the way more often than not. She’s constantly trying to understand how Josh could possibly want to be with her, what he sees in her, how he can give his love to her. Josh wants her to take risks and open up, but it’s hard for her to break free from the regimented life she’s created for herself. Perkins does a great job with the anticipation in the relationship, the build up from crush to love as it unfolds in a fairly short amount of time. Then she brings it crashing down and wrenches your heart with Isla’s rash decisions. All in all I felt that maybe Isla and Josh based their relationship on the 3 year crush before they started dating. Their relationship felt more out of need, not want. Their characters felt unreal in some places. But Perkins kept few things real while showing their naivety throughout the breakup where their young age shows too. That more than made up the unreal start of their relationship.
What I loved most about this book though, was the way it brought out a range of emotions. I laughed at Isla in the beginning for all that she did in front of Josh at Kismet. And then I was smitten with Josh when he was finally introduced. I was taken with him even more because he was so sweet with Isla. And then I felt a little of the same jealousy when she read the graphic novel – BSB. And then I was a little upset with Isla after blowing things out of proportions. By the end, I was moved when I read the part about his edited version.In short I experienced a range of emotions from sighing from contented happiness to feeling devastated and desolate.
Perkins does a fabulous job with the world building in this book, too. In Anna, Paris was another character. In this book, it is just a backdrop, but I was not disappointed. I was satiated with the Paris feast in Anna. But Perkins expands the world to include Barcelona (a place I have never been but dream of going to someday) I could vividly picture it all in my head, like I was right there with the characters.
It was a pleasure to revisit the old characters: Anna, St. Clair, Lola, and Cricket. I did not like including Anna and Etienne in the story in Lola. But here I loved a glimpse of them as not a part of the story. It was just a sweet cameo. I thought that was pretty cool. And the events that happen when they all appear made me love this book even more. I loved that Perkins was able to tie everything together and give everyone exactly what they needed: A Happily Ever After.
All in all a more than satisfactory ending to a lovely series. It’s a 4.5 out of 5.