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Isla and the Happily Ever After
by Stephanie Perkins
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I was honestly sooo looking forward to reading this book after I finished Lola and the Boy Next Door last year, but in the end I was just really disappointed? I don't know, I guess I was expecting way more since there was quite a lot of hype around this book. I am not saying the book was bad, because there were parts I enjoyed but I couldn't really get into the book, and also found Isla a bit annoying here and there.
After reviewing the first two in this series so consistently—or consistently for me, anyway—I feel I should continue in the same vein with this concluding volume. But...I don't have much to say regarding Isla's story. The writing was absolutely better in this book than in the previous two: more show than tell, better pacing of the dramatic beats, a grounded setting sans most of the Paris stereotypes.
But. The characters didn't resonate with me at all. They felt like real people, certainly, but not the sort of real people I would be friends with. So as they were falling in love and coping with insecurities and deciding their dreams, I just...didn't care a whole lot. In fact, for the first two-thirds of the book, Isla was a two-star read.
I really appreciated the characters' growth and development, though, and the issues that sparked that growth and development were absolutely the sorts of issues I can relate to and sympathize with. I loved the way Isla and Josh shone overcoming their obstacles, but I still finished the book with the sense that I'm just not the right reader for their story. ...And maybe not the right reader for Stephanie Perkins' stories, in general. C'est la vie.
I seriously think I would read Stephanie Perkins’ grocery list and find it adorable. This book between Isla and Josh, who we got to know as one of Etienne’s friends in “Anna and the French Kiss”, is SO SO cute because Josh and Isla are really into each other and we see that from the start. Their relationship has some challenges in the typical teen “where do we go to make out and do other stuff we want to do but aren’t allowed?” variety and all the sneaking around was cute to read.
Of course, then something awful happens and
Please excuse typos/name misspellings. Entered on screen reader.
Parts of this book was like reading pieces of my own relationships over time, so points for realism. I liked it. Read it in a matter of hours. That said, I need to recalibrate emotionally after reading two of her books back to back. Return to non-fiction should do the trick.
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Wikipedia in English (2)
Isla has had a crush on classmate Josh since their freshman year at the School of America in Paris, but after a chance encounter over the summer in Manhattan they return to France for their senior year where they are forced to confront challenges every young couple in love must face.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.6 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 21st Century
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The thing I love about reading Stephanie Perkins books is that I can get lost and engrossed in the atmosphere and the feelings. I read Anna and Lola, so I was really looking forward (and waiting a looooong time) to read this book. I didn't remember Isla (or Josh that much) from [b:Anna and the French Kiss|6936382|Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)|Stephanie Perkins|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1358271931s/6936382.jpg|7168450]. I have to admit when I was reading that book, all I cared about was St. Clair and Anna. The other characters didn't exactly stick with me. And it was a long time ago that I read it, so that could be another reason.
This book though.... it's not really ABOUT much. Somehow the author managed to write a book about nothing else besides a teenage relationship and make it not at all boring or annoying. I'm not sure how she does it. But the feelings and romance sucked me in.
The book is set in Paris and New York... and Barcelona a little bit. Isla and Josh are falling in love in all 3 cities and it was SO cute and romantic. I feel like all of the different atmospheres ended up playing a role in their romance, and I loved that. Isla is so unsure of herself and her goals, whereas Josh is a serious artist and knows that's what he's going to do for the rest of his life. He suggests she apply to Dartmouth, a college she'd never even heard of, so that she could be close to him after high school. That's sort of where her doubts start creeping in. She doesn't want to be this blank piece of paper that follows a guy around. She wants to have a purpose and she can't understand how anyone would want to be with someone who doesn't have one. She also doesn't think that Josh could truly love her without her being a fully established person.
My favorite part of this book was definitely Isla's wity and cute sense of humor. She always had great timing with the things she said. It made me wish I could be more like that. I also really liked the relationship that she had with her best friend, Kurt, and her sisters.
If you were a fan of Anna and the French Kiss and/or Lola and the Boy Next Door, you won't be disappointed by this. It holds that same chemistry and magic that those books do, same cute boy/girl interactions. Same overall feeling that to me is warm and magical. And bonus- appearances by Cricket, Lola, St. Clair, Anna, Meredith, and Calliope (sort of).
OVERALL: Yes to this final book in the series!! I loved going back to the American School in Paris and I loved falling in love with Isla and Josh. Stephanie Perkins is definitely a go-to for YA Contemporary Romance. This book was full of life, warmth, and a journey of one girl to find herself. I recommend to ALL!!!