Isla & The Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Release Date: August 2014
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Plot: 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.
I read Anna and the French Kiss a few years back now. And while I read it because I felt a little pressured by the online book community to read it, I fell in love with it. I had devoured it in one or two sittings, and I still stand by my five star rating.
When it comes to cute stories, I really like the idea of them. Curled up in a book nook while it’s raining outside, drinking my hot chocolate, or even out on on the grass, sipping a smoothie with my sunnies on; there’s nothing like a cute contemporary romance to make you feel light and fluffy.
But usually, whilst reading them, I’m disappointed.
Aside from the fact that I’m easily and understandably getting bored of heterosexual romance, there’s odd and twisted messages about love, about how dependant you are and how emotional you feel as a teenager. Call me an old, cold bitch, but I often find romances between teenagers wildly unrealistic. Of course you fall in love, but it does not have to be a serious as it’s made out to be. Have fun! And don’t sweat the small stuff.
So when I finally got round to reading Isla and the Happily Ever After, I was convinced that I wasn’t going to like it, that it would be the same as how I feel about other books along the same vein. And I wasn’t wrong; this books has ridiculousness written all over it. Two teenagers fall madly in love and frighten the shit out of everyone. It’s fairly selfishness and erratic behaviour, but hey, they’re teenagers! Come on Hollie, thaw that heart!
However, I didn’t expect to see how relatable it was. I was in a long term relationship as a teenager. In fact, it’s been my only relationship and so I don’t have a chance on basing my experiences on anything else but this relationship. But there is a large part of the story where Isla feels very inadequate as a person to be admired. She finds reasons and excuses for her boyfriend to not like her, and that maybe he doesn’t at all. It’s a very relatable feeling, and it hit me hard. Having feelings like that can often cause arguments, and eventually push people away. And while Isla was feeling insecure about herself and her relationship, the selfish acts she committed in order to save herself from hurt felt all too real for me, and I had stop reading for a second.
It was at these points that I decided to give it five stars. You can’t have a teen novel without teen insecurities, and I’m so glad that Stephanie Perkins included them. Plus, having your romance set in Paris doubles the chance of me giving it five stars.
I would tell you that you don’t have to read these in order, but in all honesty, I think you should. There’s great easter eggs and shout out passages that you’ll actually understand if you read this one last. Now fly off to Paris and fall in love.