Friday, August 29, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Release Date - August 14, 2014
Publisher Website - Penguin
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 339 pages
My Rating - 5/5

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
To call Isla and the Happily Ever After one this year's most anticipated reads for many is no exaggeration. For an author having novel whose release has built extremely high expectations is both a blessing and a curse. People want to read your book, and they are excited about it. On the other hand, expectations are huge, and meeting them can feel daunting. Happily, Isla and the Happily Ever After surpassed my every expectation, one swoon at a time.

If there was ever an author that perfectly captures the rush of falling in love, it's Stephanie Perkins. Every emotion is woven into these pages, including the scary ones. Relationships are not easy, you have to work at them. The message that you have to be open to letting someone one in is threaded through, not just this novel, but all three. The notion of timing, and being in the right place to let someone in is a predominant theme. It shows that anything worth having is complicated, and worthy of the effort.

Each of the ladies in this 'series' is so different. Anna, Lola, and Isla all have distinct personalities, quirks, and come to life through Stephanie's writing. Isla is the most like me, I think. We'd totally be friends. She's shy, unsure, and not quick to action. She's someone who is still learning about herself, and what she wants. It's a direct contrast to Anna and Lola who seemed much more confident in their own skin (in different ways). Having someone like Isla be the one to close out this series was brilliant, because she showcases the author's talent. You see how vastly different these these characters (and their love interests) are and it's impressive. Even more impressive is that each of them is nuanced, and complex.

Our glimpses of Josh in the previous novels made it so that I already knew I would love him. This novel does show us other sides to Josh that I never anticipated. The idea that you can love someone from a distance, and feel like you know them is played with here. Isla feels she knows Josh, only to find out that the 'real' Josh is different than she expected. Stephanie manages to make the reader feel this too. We thought we 'knew' Josh only to discover that we didn't have the full picture. We didn't know everything. Them discovering each other is part of the romance, and every aspect of the romance is deliciously swoony.

A wanderlust overtakes me whenever I read one of these novels. Josh and Isla have more than a bit of it themselves and as a result we get some pretty sexy, and romantic scenes in some drool inducing locations. These books will make you want to kiss someone at point zéro in France, get caught in the rain in Barcelona and enjoy a stolen moment in New York.

Something that might be slightly spoilery... Upon completion of this novel, I immediately wanted Stephanie to write Meredith's story. It would work perfectly. She's always been the 'odd person out' in this stories, and she'd stand out as her name doesn't end in an 'A'. She makes an appearance in this novel (along with other favourites) and one interaction left me eager for her to find her own happy ending.

Stephanie Perkins has created three unique love stories. Each tells a different couple's journey, and as a result something truly beautiful is created. Nobody is the same, and neither is their journey. No matter your particular tastes, one of the three stories will resonate and touch you. What makes these romances leap off the page is the little details. Stephanie manages to create something achingly touching out of the tiniest thing. She knows it's the small, private things that add up to a love story, and she captures that. Nothing in her novels is overly unrealistic like romantic comedies can sometimes be, and that makes them feel all the more truthful.

A romantic, magical ending to this trio of companion novels. Stephanie Perkins proves that happily ever after may just be possible for everyone, even if ends up being not quite what you expect. It may not mean a perfect fairytale, but sometimes reality can be just as wonderful. A novel that was more than worth the wait, I breathlessly wait for whatever Stephanie Perkins writes next.

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