Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After

Isla and the Happily Ever AfterStephanie Perkins, Isla and the Happily Ever After

Isla Martin has had a crush on Josh Wasserstein since their first year together at the School of the Americas in Paris. But because of his relationship with another girl and her own shyness, nothing has ever happened between them, and Isla is convinced nothing ever will. But then, the summer before their senior year, she bumps into Josh in a Manhattan cafe and actually finds the courage to talk to him. It soon becomes obvious that her crush isn’t as unrequited as she thought, and the two embark on a giddy, passionate relationship. But even the intensity of first love can’t blind Isla to the pitfalls ahead of them: Josh is an artistic slacker who might get kicked out of school despite his talent, while Isla is a bright girl who works hard but doesn’t know what to do after graduation. Can Isla and Josh stay together when everything, from geography to family issues to their own future paths, seems determined to keep them apart?

I’ve been waiting for this novel, the companion to Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door, for YEARS, and I was definitely not disappointed! This book really captures the feeling of being young and in love, with its dizzying highs, despairing lows, and all the accompanying drama. Isla is a sweet but spunky heroine, and I personally found her more relatable than Anna or Lola: she’s shy and has a rich interior life, but she has a little more trouble turning her dreams into reality. I like that this book highlights the differences between a crush and a real relationship; even though Isla gets to date the boy of her dreams, their relationship is far from perfect! This book is full of all the swoonworthy romantic moments you’d expect in a Perkins novel, though it’s certainly more explicit than Anna and Lola. The book is definitely geared to a teenage audience (unsurprisingly, since it’s YA), so I did occasionally feel like I was a bit too old for the story. But I still really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who wants a dramatic, romantic read!

2 thoughts on “Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After

  1. Frances says:

    I too just read this recently, and I thought it was a much more mature story than the previous books. You mentioned feeling at times “too old” for the book; I didn’t feel that with this one so much as with the other two, because they were so focused on “will they or won’t they” drama before the various couples got together. Here, I was relieved to find that Isla and Josh do end up together, but the real work is staying together.

    • Christina says:

      I think my feeling of being “too old” came from the specific tension in Isla and Josh’s relationship, that they weren’t sure they could be together for the long haul because of their plans after graduation. While issues of timing and distance can always cause problems in a relationship, I just felt like their particular issue was very connected to their age and that specific point in their lives. I do agree that the romance itself felt mature, because it dealt with the hard work of staying together even after making the decision to be with someone.

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