Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: August 14, 2014
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "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 Martin is a student at the School of America in Paris and has crushed on artist, Josh, from afar since her freshman year. One summer in Manhattan, she is sitting in a cafe after undergoing wisdom tooth surgery, so she's a bit drugged. She sees Josh and starts a conversation with him, which ends up with her having some blurry memories as to what exactly happened and him escorting her home, thanks to the pain killers. She doesn't see him again until they return to their senior year at school in Paris and they reconnect. Romance blossoms between the two of them, but things get complicated quickly. Josh's father is a senator and that definitely complicates things, because he finds himself breaking the rules quite often and when it comes to Isla, she lacks confidence. She's always second guessing herself and self-sabotaging the good things in her life. The ever looming question in Isla's mind is can they survive senior year with so many obstacles confronting them? Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins captures the euphoria of first love. The fights, the romance, the drama, the all-consuming thoughts…it's all here and Perkins portrays it so very well. Fans of contemporary romance will thoroughly enjoy this tale of young love.
Isla sort of drove me nuts, but Perkins is such a good writer that I had no problem understanding why she made the decisions she did in Isla and the Happily Ever After. She was always filled with self-doubt and I sort of wanted her to be more confident and grow a pair. She does as the story unfolds, but she was always self-sabotaging things. Everything would be going well and then, BAM, she would drop a bomb. But that's what is so awesome about Perkins, because this stuff happens. I know as a young girl I acted the same way and Perkins truly captures the angst of teenage love….which leads me to Josh.
Guys, I am just going to say it. I didn't love Josh as much as St. Clair (from Anna and the French Kiss), but I could still see why Isla was so smitten with him. He's an artist, he's very smart, he's romantic, and he is emotional in Isla and the Happily Ever After. He also knows how to display the formal senator's son act as well as the tortured artist vibe; so, he's definitely a multi-faceted character.
One of the best parts of Isla and the Happily Ever After were the cameos from my favorite characters Anna and St. Clair as well as Cricket and Lola. I love how Perkins incorporated characters from her previous books; it definitely tied everything nicely together in a big bow. Also, the secondary character of Kurt, her best friend with high functioning autism, was a fantastic character. LOVED him! We need more of this in young adult literature.
I must say what irked me a bit about Isla and the Happily Ever After was the fact that Isla was mapping out her life around Josh's after only being with him for a little while. She really had no direction, which is fine, but I'm not sure she should be making important life decisions based on Josh's college location. Yes, while I know all teenagers act this way when it comes to first love, it still bothered me, because I wanted so much for her.
But when all is said and done, Isla and the Happily After made me smile. I love that about Stephanie Perkins. Her books make me feel good. Tahereh Mafi called her the "Jane Austen our generation" and I definitely agree. Her stories are real, the characters feel genuine and the setting is always to-die-for. I can't wait to read her future work; she's obviously one of my favorite authors and my go-to writer when I need a smile plastered on my face.
While I didn't love this book as much as Anna and the French Kiss, it was still very enjoyable and easily one of my favorite books of the year.