Note: This review is spoiler-free!
Stephanie Perkins has that rare gift of bringing a smile to your face and it making it stick there. I can be a in a crowded train that reeks of B.O. and stale beer, and I’d still be smiling because I’m in the middle of one of her books.
In her final piece to the Anna and the French Kiss trilogy, we meet Isla Martin, a studious, awkward teenage girl who has been madly crushing on Josh Wasserstein. You may remember Isla and Josh from Anna, and I was wondering why Steph chose those two characters to write about. Until I read the book, that is. Isla is just wonderful. She’s adorably awkward, smart, kind, and completely relatable. She has the same hang ups that most teenagers go through.
What I especially appreciate is that while these books are very romantic, they’re not just about a fluffy romance between two people. It’s almost all about our main character, and seeing how she grows and develops into someone even more amazing. We see that with Isla, as she discovers what it’s like being in a relationship and truly falling in love for the first time.
And no one makes characters fall in love like Stephanie Perkins. She tackles the delight and wonder of love, but also the doubt, angst and other complexities that can come with it. Isla and Josh fall headlong fast, and things happen that make (or force) them to take some time apart. It’s when this happens that you really see how they’ve impacted each other. With a title that includes “Happily Ever After,” you don’t expect it to get deep or kind of dark, but it does. The vulnerability that Isla and Josh show to each other resonates. It was those moments when they revealed their souls to each other that got to me the most. It was at first exciting and then terrifying. Those feelings of uncertainty that creep from doubt and mistrust… could the truth lead to something heartbreaking or rewarding for these characters? Perkins captured all of those emotions in her words and gave Isla and Josh something that feels unerringly real.
Besides the romance, I did enjoy reading about Isla’s other relationships. Her loyalty to her best friend, Kurt, is endearing and genuine. Her relationship with her family and sisters added a new facet of characterization to Isla that I found fascinating.
With Isla, you travel to Paris, Barcelona and Manhattan, but as much as those destinations are striking and beautiful, they’re dimed in comparison to the brilliant characters that live or visit them. Isla and Josh are quite the pair, and you’ll love the journey they take you on to their “Happily Ever After.”
Isla and the Happily Ever After Rating: 10/10
Anna and the French Kiss trilogy Rating: 10/10
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins hits shelves August 14, 2014. Pre-order your book here to get a signed copy and some cool swag!
Publisher: Dutton (August 14, 2014)
Length: 330 pages, Hardcover
Source: ARC (Provided by publisher)
Series: Anna and the French Kiss
Genre: YA, Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Completed: August 2014