Saturday, September 20, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Book Summary
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. 
Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, √Čtienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

Flo's Review
Yay for Isla! I read most of this book on a day I was feeling blah, and it provided the perfect escape. Really, what can be better than falling in love in Paris?!? I had forgotten just how much I love how Stephanie Perkins writes characters. When I grow up, I want to write characters like Stephanie. Her characters aren't characters -- they become REAL to me. I know them. Because she describes every mannerism, every flaw, every  beauty. You see these characters are whole people and not just actors in a scene. And, of course, I loved loved loved seeing Anna, St. Clair, Lola, Cricket, and Meredith again. This book made me want to go back and read Anna and the French Kiss again. And this book wrapped up the trilogy so nicely and perfectly. 

Another little thing I liked about this book was Lola's relationship with Kurt. My nephew has autism, and it just warmed my heart to read about a guy who has autism but still has a fun, adventurous life -- and, more specifically, a friend to stand by him like Lola stands by Kurt. Their friendship is so great: they will always be there for and support each other, but they also understand that they need to give the other space to let that person fly.

There were times in the story when I wasn't a fan of Isla. Her insecurities and their effect on the relationship annoyed me a little bit. Like, rabbits for example. (This will make sense if you've read the book.) Of the three stories, I have to say that I loved Anna and the French Kiss, then Lola and the Boy Next Door, and then Isla and the Happily Ever After, in that order. But what an amazing, amazing trilogy. I'll have to say that this is my favorite YA contemporary trilogy.

Jacque's Review:

It has been over two and a half years since I finished reading Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door.  I honestly could not remember who Isla was prior to starting the book, but I did not feel bad once I remembered.  She had a VERY small part in Anna and the French Kiss.  She is a year younger than Anna and Etienne and attends SOAP...the School of America in Paris.  She has a huge crush on Josh, who was good friends with Etienne, and is a very talented artist in her grade.

Both Josh and Isla are from New York City and have attended the School of America in Paris together for three years.  They are both home for the summer between their junior and senior year and bump into each other at a local cafe.  Isla just had her wisdom teeth removed and is more outgoing than normal, thanks to some pain killers.  This was just the thing these characters needed to break the ice.  Isla has been in love with Josh since her freshman year and he has secretly been interested in her as well.

After visiting Paris last year I was really excited to read this story, which included many of the sites I visited.  Isla's best friend since childhood, Kurt, is obsessed with the catacombs, the underground tunnel system in Paris.  If you have never been there, here are a couple of the pictures I took.  It isn't something most tourists know about, but I would HIGHLY recommend taking a tour if you are even in Paris.  

I'm sure everyone wants to know how Anna, Etienne, Lola and Cricket are woven into this story, but I'm not going to spoil it for you.  I will simply say that Stephanie had a brilliant way of bringing all of these characters together for a short period of time.  Isla has a chance to interact with Josh's friends and we are able to see how their lives and relationships have progressed.

The one thing I can say about Stephanie Perkins is that she writes the most lovable characters.  They are all very unique and their stories are far from perfect.  They make mistakes along the way, but they become better people because of what they learn on their journey.  While I always appreciate a Happily Ever After, it has a greater impact when it doesn't come handed to you on a silver platter.  This is a brilliant series that I consider a MUST read for any young adult fan.  

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