Saturday, August 22, 2015

Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

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, √Čtienne, 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."

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Page Count: 339 

Publisher: Dutton 

Publish Date: August 14, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After is the epitome of a feel-good story. Although often misperceived as just another romance novel, it is so much more: beautiful prose coupled with ever-growing characters and a beautifully romantic setting, Isla is a recipe for perfection, and a treat you definitely don't want to miss out on.  

This was a book that I'd been saving for a very long time. I'd read Anna and the French Kiss nearly two years ago, and Lola and the Boy Next Door around the beginning of this year (2015). Although I had bought a copy of Isla about a year ago when it was first released, I'd been saving it carefully for a time when I'd just need a Stephanie Perkins book to pick me up. Sure enough, the time came around, and I'm so glad I saved it for a not-so-special occasion. 

One thing I love about this book was how different it was from its predecessors, Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door. Although the books are often marketed as a "trilogy" due to the interweaving of story lines and characters, they are all so different from one another, and Isla truly proved that. Anna and Lola followed a pattern where the majority of their books were spent discussing the sexual tension and drama that occurred pre-relationship (between the protagonist and their respective love interest) and, eventually, led up to the actual relationship ship between the to characters during the last few chapters of the book. Isla, however, was quite the opposite. The relationship between Isla and Josh begins very early on in the book, which allows for us (the reader) to see the development of their relationship in more depth than allowed within the first two books. 

Isla and Josh's relationship was probably the most tumultuous of all three of the relationships outlined in Ms. Perkins' novels. Yet, theirs seemed the most right. From the very start of the novel we're given this sense of instant chemistry between the two of them- a chemistry that only grows from a bud into a fill, blossoming flower as the novel progresses.  Their love not only made me insanely jealous (because let's be honest, who doesn't want a boyfriend like Josh in their life) but also made my heart swell with love for these two fictional characters who I haven't been able to stop thinking about since I put the book down. 

However, despite the fact that the romance is the big appeal of this novel, there's so much more to it than just love. The importance of maintaining loyal friendships is a huge theme within this book. I love how one of Isla's biggest qualities that she was looking for in a boyfriend was that they had to be willing to accept her autistic best friend, Kurt. She wasn't willing to sacrifice her best friend- who'd been by her side since preschool- just for some new guy who came along. But also, she wasn't about to sacrifice her love life just for Kurt. She wanted to find the perfect balance between her friendship and her relationship, and, eventually, she managed to do just that. 

Despite their struggles, Isla and Josh manage to overcome every challenge that is thrown their way. They fight off all their demons- internal and external- and, by the conclusion of the novel, finally find their heartwarming happily ever after. 

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