Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Posted November 19, 2014 by Debby in Book Reviews

Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie PerkinsIsla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #3
Published by Dutton on August 14th, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gifted

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.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, 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.

5 Stars

Have you ever had a book give you butterflies? I have, and that book was Isla and the Happily Ever After. By far my favorite of Stephanie Perkins’ books, Isla is dripping with chemistry, happiness, and love. I can’t even describe just how happy this book made me. It is fluffy romantic perfection.

Right from the start, I knew this book and I were golden. I had recently reread Anna and the French Kiss, so I remembered seeing Isla fawn over Josh from afar, and in essence I already shipped it. Isla’s voice is so freaking wonderful. She’s a bit nervous, a bit insecure, and that was all so relatable. Though some might say that her feelings for Josh were all instalovey, I didn’t really see it that way. I was transported back in time to high school, when a young, naive Debby had her bouts of intense unrequited love. Her crush was deep, but knowing Josh from Anna and the French Kiss, I totally understood that. She may have idealized him a bit, but who among us didn’t have a crush like hers in high school? And she’s not just all about the romance. She has real struggles with deciding what to do with her future and finding out where to place her romance on the priorities list. I loved that. It was so realistic.

I was flailing with shippage within the first chapter. Honestly, Josh is such a dreamboat. I love the repressed artist kind of thing, but more than anything I loved the balance that he and Isla created together. And he was blind to her at first, but then was swept away as any romantic artist would be with his muse. I was sitting on the edge of my seat, aww-ing, with butterflies in my stomach, for most of this book. And it just made me so happy. The first half is so lovely and wonderful and romantic, but warning bells were going off in my head. As much as I wanted them to keep kissing for the rest of the book, I knew something bad was going to happen.

This is where Stephanie Perkins excels: she writes realistic fiction, not escapism. The struggles Josh and Isla go through are so real. Yes, it was painful. Yes, I threw down my book and yelled at the ceiling, “WHYYYYY?!!?!” But it was all good in the end. The physical chemistry was definitely there between Josh and Isla – and it was so powerful, omg, please never stop kissing – but the distance ultimately benefited them to become a real couple. There were obvious topics that they needed to talk about – other ways in which they still had to get to know each other – and they needed to find themselves still, especially with college looming. I haven’t even mentioned how dear to my heart Isla’s narrative about being a child of two cultures is – it’s basically my life story with all its complexities, doubts, benefits, and feelings of never fitting in. So while this book delivered MUCH PAIN VERY INTENSE PAIN, I was glad they went through it, because it made them both stronger in the end.

The ending was absolutely immaculate. Honestly, I could gush about its perfection all day erry day. Not only do we get to reunite with St. Clair, Anna, Lola, Cricket, and Meredith… which has some very exciting !! moments… but then it’s all about Josh and Isla again. They are absolutely perfect together. Like Sanjita tells Isla, she supports him in his art and never wants to change him – which makes her the best companion for him. And Hattie, Isla’s sister, is so cute, and how she helps Isla absolutely caused my feels to explode. Seriously, Stephanie Perkins makes the best secondary characters. They all, in the end, help in small ways to bring Isla and Josh together and it is absolute perfection and I LOVE THIS BOOK AND I CAN’T HELP IT – I CANNOT – I HAVE TOO MANY FEELS – OKAY – GOODBYE.

Summing Up:

This book is everything I wanted it to be. The romance is absolutely perfect, with such intense chemistry, true love, and two amazing main characters. Then there’s the awesome supporting cast, which contribute to make Stephanie Perkins’s universe even more delightful. The messages about friendship (with Sanjita and Kurt) and family (with Hattie) are deep and powerful and not to be ignored. Though this book caused me PAIN, that’s just because I was completely absorbed by it, suffering alongside the characters. It was perfection and (ultimately) happiness, and it made my heart SOAR. I will be rereading this book all the time – I can already tell. An instant all time favorite, definitely worth all the hype it’s been getting.

GIF it to me straight!

Recommended To:

Anyone who loves romance, srsly ANYONE.

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6 responses to “Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

  1. AWWWW DAT GIF. So adorbs.

    Also, we agree on this one, yay! I looooved Isla’s voice the most for sure. She’s a little more like me, for one thing, but also I thought she just popped off the page in a way the others didn’t really for me.

    Though of all the guys, I would definitely go for Cricket. Josh is SO not my type. I mean, I can see the appeal, but he would just stress me out and piss me off. We would fight like he and Rashmi did. No good.

    Poor Debby. Poor me. Poor everyone who goes into this expecting exquisite fluff and suddenly getting smacked in the face with pain. I did not see it coming, though I guess I should have, since fluff books usually don’t pass 350 pages. It was SO well done, but OW OW OW. It killed me how much Isla didn’t think she deserved to be loved. I FEEL YOU, GIRL.

    Why can’t all instalove be like this? Authors, get on that. Immediate feels and banter and attraction, but also needing to readjust and really get to know each other and work through to a more lasting love and YES.

    • Isla is definitely Perkins Heroine #1. She touched my heart and I just I can’t asdfjkl; so many feels

      LOL. I guess Cricket is the most stable of the guys, for sure, but he almost kind of bored me because of it? I dunno. I have something for artsy boys. They’re just so… intriguing. But less stable. So in real life I guess I would like a guy more like Cricket. But whatever, in Perkins’s universe I like Josh the best.

      HAHA, yeah, I realized when they got together so early on that there was NOOOO WAY it could keep being happy all that time. But bracing myself for it didn’t help one bit. Still, I would relive that spectacular pain because this book is just fantastic.

      I wouldn’t even really call it instalove. I mean, I guess from Josh’s perspective it was, but from Isla’s it wasn’t. Because it was such a long-time crush based on observation from afar, I just could tell her feelings were REAL and realistic, and it never felt weird or sappy to me. But yeah, the fact that they actually had to backtrack and get to know each other better was also key to the ship’s success.

  2. Kim

    Oh man. This book. THIS BOOK. I would just sit there grinning like a loon on public transportation while reading this one. “Ignore me, everyone! I’m definitely emotionally stable!” And then it kicks you right in the feels.

    I had such a time with the book almost throughout, actually. Being in Isla’s head was pretty much eerily similar to being in my own head. Empathy for her and her anxiety was just pouring out of me. I’m so thankful to Stephanie Perkins for so honestly and accurately portraying a character like Isla. It made me feel more normal and less alone.

    So happy you loved it too. 🙂

    • Hahahaha, that is basically how I was reading it as well. I read on the train daily, and I swear, they’ve got to be thinking I’m crazy for all of the insane wide shipper smiles and soft giggles. I REGRET NOTHING.

      I know right? Isla felt SO REAL. She just popped off the page in a very touching way, and I think she’s my favorite of Perkins’ MCs because of it. She just touched my heart.

  3. So happy you loved this one, Debby, and that it didn’t disappoint you like it did others. Your wonderful review really reminds me that I need to read this one already! I pre-ordered it after all, what’s wrong with you? It’s definitely a priority of mine.