Isla and the Happily Ever After
By Stephanie Perkins
Released: August 14th, 2014
Genre: Young Adult
Genre: Young Adult
I know quite a few people have reviewed this book already, and even more people have read it – but I figured I’d throw my two cents’ in as well!
Isla and the Happily Ever After is a companion novel to Stephanie Perkins’s Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door. While it’s not necessary to read one book before reading another, I always like to play it safe and read them in order. In this case, it’s best if you do so – not because you need to read them to understand the plot in each, but because there are recurring characters that really add an extra spice to the story if you know them. So I highly recommend you read them in order!
Anyway, on to the review! First of all, that beginning! It was so funny! I could tell from the first chapter that I was reading a Stephanie Perkins novel. After Isla had her wisdom teeth removed, she’s high off of pain meds and let’s just say it leads to some interesting scenarios. It’s so funny because when I had mine out, all I did was sleep it off. I was pretty much dead to the world for the first twenty-four hours after the surgery. As funny as the beginning is, it did make the start of the novel feel a little disjointed, as it jumps from the summer to the beginning of school in, like, ten pages. Ultimately, I felt that Perkins could’ve just started the story from the beginning of the semester, but hey – it was a cute and funny scene, so I dealt with it.
What I really liked about this novel was that it jumped into the romance right away; it didn’t spend 2/3 of the story building up to it. Isla and Josh had actually spent years secretly admiring each other, so when their feelings were finally out in the open, they immediately started seeing each other. This led to plenty of fluff and fun dates, which kept me turning the pages. Eventually, though, Josh and Isla are separated, though not by their own choosing. Isla stays in France while Josh is in the US and they try their best to continue their relationship despite the miles between them. This leads to a different set of problems they have to face, such as the distance, worrying whether their parents like each other, and so on. Much of the novel is based on whether or not they will survive all the trials thrown their way.
One aspect of the novel I really enjoyed was Isla’s relationship with her long-time friend Kurt. I have a brother with high-functioning Autism, so I’m used to the stares while out in public, as well as friends asking “what’s wrong with him” and such. Luckily, I’ve never had to choose between my brother and my friends, but I definitely respect Isla for staying true to Kurt; she’s a real friend. As such, Kurt’s personality seemed to match Asperger’s pretty well. (I’ve grown up involved in the SPED programs at school, as my Mom teaches it and my brother was in it for a long time, so I know many of the symptoms and behavioral tendencies of people with mental disabilities.)
I really related to Isla, too. Perkins does a great job of bringing her characters to life. And while I loved Josh, I don’t think I loved him quite as much as Etienne or Cricket. That said, I could sympathize with him as well, especially when he was separated from Isla. Either way, we get a “Happily Ever After.” Though, I did feel the ending was a little forced. Not necessarily AED (Abrupt Ending Disorder) but pretty close. At least I was pretty satisfied; a little extra fluff to go out on would’ve been nice, but this is still a five star read for me. Definitely check out Stephanie Perkins if you haven’t already!