Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
“From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.
Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new”
Summary from Goodreads.com
A while ago, Kelly lent Amanda her copy of Anna and The French Kiss where I think it went mysteriously missing?? I’m a little fuzzy on the details, but all I know is that at the beginning of the summer Amanda texted the group message saying she found it and she and Kelly started talking about how much they loved it.
When these texts were happening I didn’t know what they were talking about so I picked up my kindle and downloaded it so I would know what was going on. I read about 3/4 of the book that night. I loved it. I thought it was so great. The next night I finished the book and immediately wanted more. Luckily for me, there was a sequel, Lola and The Boy Next Door. I promptly downloaded that book and once again stayed up until, like, 4am reading (although, to be fair, on a normal night during the summer I don’t go to sleep until like 2 or 3 am anyway).
Then came the agonizing wait until Isla and the Happily Ever After. I don’t know how people who read Anna in 2010 when it was first published managed the wait, because I could barely handle the 2.5 month wait. While I love both Anna and Lola, this is a review about Isla.
Isla and The Happily Ever After brings us the story of Isla Martin and Joshua Wasserstein. Two supporting characters from Anna and The French Kiss now get to be the stars. We start at the beginning of their senior year, and follow them as they fall in love and overcome obstacles.
Isla has had a crush on Josh since she first met him, but was always to awkward and shy to talk to him. The summer before her senior year, they have a fateful meeting one night which sets off a chain of events that leads to them falling in love in their final year at The School of America in Paris (SOAP).
Man, I really loved this book. It made me so so so happy. I actually had to put it down at points because I was so happy. It might be my favorite of the series, but idk all of them might be my favorite of the series. I love them all in different ways. But I really liked this one.
It’s romantic and poignant and magic, but it’s also complicated and serious and realistic. It balances realism with fantasy perfectly.
I’ve mentioned in other posts that I’ve been dealing with a serious case of wanderlust. All I want to do is travel the world. I want to leave my small town (which I’m doing tomorrow thank god) and have adventures. This book takes us back to Paris, with stops in New York City and Barcelona. It both eased and aggravated my wanderlust, in the best way possible. If I can’t galavant through Europe right now, the best I can do is live vicariously through fictional characters. I think that’s why I loved this book so much, the settings. It takes us to fantastic places, and on great adventures.
I also love the characters. Not just the main ones, but the whole cast. Perkins has the ability to make even the supporting characters be people you want to hang out with.
In Anna, St. Clair and Anna weren’t the only characters you cared about. I wanted to know more about Meredith, Rashmi, and Josh. Small characters like Isla were introduced and given spotlighted moments. These are the people you want to be friends with.
In Lola, it was her Parents (both of her Dads and her birth mother), her best friend Linsey, and Cricket’s twin Calliope that added depth to the story.
A book is only as strong as it’s supporting characters. That’s where the realism falls, even in fantasy books, the characters make the biggest difference. (Can you tell yet that my favorite parts of things are the characters?)
In this book the supporting characters were great. I loved Isla’s family, and the tension and resolution they provided on her relationship with Josh. I loved Kurt, and the way his relationship with Isla evolved. It felt natural, and touching the way they related to each other. The dynamic of the relationship shifted, but it worked out well, and developed both characters.
I really loved Isla. I was always intrigued by her character in Anna, because Perkins wanted us to be. She made sure she wrote a character, who was kind, and she set the foundation for Isla and Josh’s relationship early on. I’m glad we got a book about her because she’s an interesting character. She’s cute, and awkward. She’s insecure but loyal in her relationships. Her awkwardness felt real, and important to her character, and it wasn’t just that she was awkward for the sake of being different, it actually provided important parts to the story.
Josh is great too. All the guys in this series are great, because they’re not perfect. They all have their flaws. That’s what makes the books so realistic. I felt like we learned as much about Josh as we did about Isla, even though he wasn’t the narrator of the story. We got an interesting look into his life, and he was important to Isla, and together I really loved their relationship.
Part of the reason I think this book might be my favorite of the series, is we get to see more of them as a couple. My issue with a lot of romance books, is there is so much build up to the relationship and then it ends when the couple get together. I loved that Anna and St. Clair were brought back as supporting characters in Lola, because I got to see them as a couple.
We get to see Isla and Josh as a couple, and facing adversity and overcoming issues. It’s great.
I loved the context of senior year. There are Joshs and Islas in the world. People like Josh, who know exactly what they want to do, so by senior year they kind of give up on trying. Josh knows he wants to be an artist and where he wants to go to school, so classes become an irritating detail to him. Then there are people like Isla, who have no idea what they want to do. I’m 100% an Isla. Even now I’m in college with a declared major, but I still have no idea what I want to do with my life. It was good to see those differences in the book.
One last thing I loved about this book, were the small details that referenced the other books. The timeline of Isla and the Happily Ever After runs adjacent to Lola and the Boy Next Door. Josh makes a cameo on TV in Lola, and there are other references to the timeline in Isla. Which was great, because it gave perspective to the series. I would have liked to see more of Anna and St. Clair and Lola and Cricket in this book, but I understand the setting and the focused upon character made this difficult. And the cameo we did get left me grinning and screaming with excitement. There were other small details in the book that brought it full circle.
For fans of romance and travel, this series is a must. Isla and the Happily Ever After met and exceeded my expectations and was well worth the wait.
I have to go pack, and you have to go read the book, so we’ll end this review here, okay?