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.– Goodreads
There are a handful of things that make me feel at home, and one of them is Stephanie Perkin’s writing. That is what reading Isla and the Happily Ever After did for me, it was like coming home. I’ve never hidden the fact that Perkins’ has helped me through many rough times. From her books, to her honesty on her blog, to the fact every time I see her I freeze up and forget to tell her what I want, Isla was happiness I wasn’t aware I even needed.
Isla and the Happily Ever After is a companion novel set in the world of Perkins’ previous two novels, Anna and Isla. While one does not need to read the previous two to understand this standalone it does help because what Perkins’ does is beautifully intertwine multiple characters and bits that originally seems to have no true meaning. Everything has meaning, at least it did to me as a reader. I enjoyed being set back in the world of these characters, from New York City to Paris, if anything, I felt like I never let. Although the pacing seemed a bit off to me, in the sense time often seemed to zip by in a chapter, I never once wanted this book to stop. Or, dare I say it. I never wanted to throw it against the wall. We all know I have book feels I often am forced to deal with, even when I’m in denial.
Isla and Josh quickly, and understandably fall in love with each other quickly, but as most teens know happiness and forever don’t always go hand in hand. Things don’t work that easily, even when you’re in the city of lights. It was a weird twist of events where the romantic couple come together quickly and then deal with the fallout. The dramatic, painful, oh so real fallout. The drama that Perkins’ created was heartbreaking and never artificial. While the beginning was hearts in the eyes happiness, I knew it would have to end at some point. There would have to be dramatics, if only because the saying lately is no one wants to read about happy couples (which is a lie. I would.) But that’s what Perkins’ does, she created a realistic portrayal of teenage romance. That romance where if you can’t be together the world is going to end a painful end. While Isla and Josh are happy they are forced to face issues they are trying their hardest to ignore, which means they cause an even bigger blow up. My heart went out to all the characters in this book, even though I stayed up late reading it when I had work the next morning.
While I didn’t want to leave these characters, and a few old friends who appeared, I understood at the end it was time to say good bye to them. It was their happily ever after for the moment, and it would all be okay for them (and for us.)