Title: Isla and the Happily Ever After
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Published: 14th August 2014
“I like reading about adventure, sure, but I also like doing it from the safety of home. But what is home, besides a quilt-covered bed?”
Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?
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.
Okay okay, so nearly every YA book blogger has most likely read this book by now. I really have no excuse. I mean, I bought it not long after it came out, and then it just sat on my shelves for ages, waiting. Waiting for the perfect moment. And although I gave this book only 3 stars, I can assuredly say that this was the perfect moment to read this book. My three stars is not due to lack of enjoyment, but because some aspects of it just didn’t sit right with me. Regardless, I think of the Anna/Lola/Isla trilogy, still, as my happy books. Especially Anna and the French Kiss. Having Anna as the first book in this trilogy basically spoiled me for liking the others so much!
So the things I liked:
1) We went back to Paris! I missed the Paris boarding school setting in the second book, so I was really happy we were took back there in this one. I really liked that Stephanie Perkins takes you to the everyday parts of Paris, and not just the tourist parts, and how real Paris feels as a result. She really captures the beauty of Paris. And any book in Paris will probably be somewhat enjoyable for me anyway!
2) The importance of art. In Anna and the French Kiss, it was movies. In Lola and the Boy Next Door, it was fashion and design. And in Isla, it was drawing. Art is an important, essential, beautiful part of our world, and I love that this trilogy captured that!
3) The reunion scene. Honestly, if you loved Anna and St Clair, you need to read this book just for that reunion scene! I think a tear of joy might possibly have slipped from my eye. Possibly.
However, despite how much I enjoyed reading the story, I just couldn’t get past some of the messages of this story and how much they sat a little wrong with me. Firstly: how easy a relationship blooms between two shy, awkward characters, and how easy it seems for Isla despite her secret 3 year-long crush on him. If only these situations were as simple and cringe-free as this was!
Which brings me onto number two, the reason why it was so easy for them: because he was ‘the one’. I don’t like the idea of ‘the one’ – the idea that there is one person you are fated and destined to be with and it doesn’t matter how young you are, or how many obstacles are in your way, you will defeat them all because you are each other’s ‘the one’ and no one else will match. Yeah, I just don’t like that idea, and a small part of me was actually thinking how interesting this book would have been if they didn’t have the ‘Happily Ever After’. (Can you tell I don’t read much contemporary YA romance!!??)
But these aren’t really problems with the book specifically, but an idea this book kind of subscribes to. And regardless, I still flew through it and enjoyed Isla and Josh as characters. As a complete trilogy, these books will always be associated as my happy books, and always make me smile when I flick back through them. Hopefully Stephanie Perkins will keep writing more of these happy, lovely books!