Isla and the Happily Ever After is a book that I, and many others, have been waiting years for. It’s an unusual story, the origin of these books for me, as the book one is the seed of my now thriving love of contemporary romances. I never expected that I would love them. In 2011 I took Stephanie Perkins‘s previous books, Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door on a camping trip to Pennsylvania. I read them on a lark after running out of other choices and thoroughly enjoyed both of them. Now, years later, Isla became one of my most anticipated books.
Last week Penguin ever so kindly sent me a copy to read (after much begging and pleading on my part). I sat down and read it in one day. It was everything that I have been wanting and more.
So worth the wait. I would wait that long again for a book that made me this happy. I loved it. Utterly.
Isla Martin is a young woman from two different worlds. As such she doesn’t know exactly who she is. Her Father is American and her family lives in Manhattan. Her Mother is French and wants her to take advantage of her dual citizenship. Isla has been enrolled at School of America in Paris since she was a freshman. That entire time she has been in love with one man – Josh Wasserstein. Josh is a talented artist and spends most of his time at SOAP with his nose buried in a sketchbook, his fingers covered in ink. He defies the rules at every turn. Isla admires him from afar until one summer day their paths unexpectedly cross. She thinks she may have a window with him but an entire summer of absence makes her rethink everything that happened between them.
Now, at the beginning of a new school semester, she spends time with her long-time best friend Kurt and dreams of Josh. When the latter shows up at SOAP Isla and he rekindle a tentative friendship that blossoms into something more. Isla thanks her lucky stars and relishes her dreams coming true. However, the universe has a way of playing tricks on people and Isla and Josh both have much to overcome to earn each other.
Funny and warm, heart-breaking and endearing, Perkins has done it again. With every new book she gets better and better. By now she has firmly cemented herself into my pantheon of must-buy authors, but this book… this sweet and savage book… well, let’s just say I’m wrecked. I cried at the end of this book, the end of the trilogy rather, and I’m having a hard time today with moving on. It’s going to be hard to let these people go.
Isla, soft-spoken yet present, Isla is so unaware of herself that it hurts. She has no idea of her own power and seeing her come into herself is one of the very best parts of this book. Josh is completely different from her. He is aloof and yet perceptive, singular and yet an every-man. Josh is the best compliment for her; a super formed personality who balances her unsure sense of self. These two, and their journey towards each other through thick and thin, is the stuff of narrative magic. There romance is one that everyone will root for.
There is a lot going on in this book; themes of identity, the future, the past, and the what-ifs. This book has a lot to offer and I can’t be more pleased with it. I adored every word. It’s perfect!
If you have not started the series yet do yourself a favor and go buy books one and two. You will not regret it.
Good bye Isla, farewell Josh. Nice to see you Anna and St. Clair and Cricket and Lola. It’s been real. I look forward to visiting you again in the future.
5 out of 5 stars.
* Isla and the Happily Ever After releases August 14, 2014.
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