Sunday, September 7, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins is another sweet love story from the author of Anna and the French Kiss.

Isla has had a crush on Josh ever since she was a freshman at the School of America in Paris. When she has a chance encounter with him in a Manhattan cafe just before their senior year, she dares to dream that a relationship might be in the cards for the two of them. Sure enough, they go from swapping smitten stares across classrooms, to hanging out together at the comic shop, to making out in school broom closets and anywhere else that provides a modicum of privacy. Theirs is an unexpected pairing: Josh has carefully cultivated a bad-boy image, while Isla is the responsible, studious one who is likely to be valedictorian. In a classic case of opposites attracting, they are both head over heels with each other. But when a disastrous choice puts an ocean between them, Isla's doubts begin to surface: does Josh really love her, or was he just going out with her because she was there?

As with Perkins' other books, there's a lot to like here. Isla is sweet and funny, and her insecurities and concerns about her future make for a convincing teenage character (it's okay not to know what you want to do with your life at age 17). Isla and Josh's relationship is a lot more steamy and physical than Anna and St. Clair's or Lola and Cricket's, but it's described in that same delightful way that will have readers swooning. Also, I would really like to read Josh's graphic novel memoir now! There are cameos by Anna and St. Clair and Lola and Cricket, too, which are lovely but brief. All in all, I found this a satisfying romance, and it made me want to go back and reread the other two to see all the ways the three books fit together -- though I think that readers new to Perkins can start with any of the three books without missing too much.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

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