Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After

IslaIsla and the Happily Ever After
by Stephanie Perkins
Published by: Dutton
Form: Purchased Hardback
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Big Themes
: Falling in Love, Boarding School, Finding Yourself, Art, Paris, NYC, Barcelona

Other Books in the Series:
Anna and the French Kiss
Lola and the Boy Next Door
This series is more like companion books than sequels.

Isla, class valedictorian, has had a crush on Joshua Wasserstein, bad boy artist, since her freshman year.  One night in New York while they are both home for the summer fills Isla with hope that perhaps something might happen this year when they return to school in Paris.

Review in a Nutshell:

I. Love. Stephanie.  Perkins.

Stephanie Perkins captures young love at its finest in each of her books.  She captures those moments of awkwardness.  Those moments of hope.  Those moments of infatuation.  Those moments of wonder. I rarely read contemporary romance because they don’t have enough action for me.  But Stephanie Perkins crafts characters that feel real and her stories are authentic to teen experiences.  I love her work.

Lola and the Boy Next Door will remain my favorite in this series because I adored the quirky characters Lola and Cricket.  But Isla has it’s own charm that shouldn’t be missed.  If you like the quiet, nerdy girl falls for misunderstood, bad boy, then this is your book.  If you think that sounds too predictable, there are plenty of surprises that made the story fresh.

Isla really captured what I think is a real teen persona: the super successful academic who has no idea what they want to do in their life after high school.  I think there are a lot of teens who push and push themselves to achieve in high school and get into competitive colleges but are lost when it comes to a passion and career they want to pursue.  I really liked that Perkins explored this person in Isla.

Josh, the romantic lead, is Isla’s opposite.  He has always known what his passion is and what he wants to do with his life.  They compliment each other, and yet conflict is present as well.  I loved the descriptions of Josh’s artwork throughout the novel.  I’d imagine that would be hard to capture as an author, but I thought Perkins did a wonderful job.

The story is well crafted.  You are invested in Isla and Josh as a couple, and then the conflict is heart-wrenching.  I sort of wanted to know what Isla’s passion and purpose was going to be, but I think it is better that we don’t get a resolution there because, just like a real teenager, she needs time to explore and develop.  I also wanted some resolution with Josh’s hand pains.  I want to know that he’ll be okay!

And if you’ve ever wanted to travel to Barcelona, this book will make you want to go even more!

Four and a half stars.  Really, really enjoyed it, but it won’t beat Lola and the Boy Next Door in my heart.  Highly recommend!  For ages 14 and up due to language and sex.

Author Event: February 1, 2014

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Who (pictured above from left to right):
Megan Shepherd, Jessica Spotswood, Stephanie Perkins, Victoria Schwab, Ellen Oh
Where: Bethesda Library, MD
When: Saturday, February 1st at 2pm

Five YA authors results in a packed room:

Crowd 2/1/14

I was there mostly to see Stephanie Perkins, author of Lola and the Boy Next Door and Anna and the French Kiss. Perkins was on my “bucket list of authors to meet” and therefore, I was super excited!  I was also pleasantly surprised with the rest of the panel.  I was familiar with all of their books, even if I hadn’t read them.  And it is always nice to hear a variety of authors speak about their writing process.

If you’re looking for a creepy read, you may want to check out Victoria Schwab.  She was very fun to listen to and more of a veteran author than I realized.  I was only aware of her newer YA book The Archived, where the dead are stored like books on shelves, and the main character hunts down those dead that escape the library.  The premise is haunting and intriguing, and after hearing her speak, I’d trust her with my reading time if I feel like a thrills and chills kinda read.

The other author that I’m NO DOUBT CHECKING OUT is Megan Shepherd.
Megan Shepherd
She is one cool chick and a lot like myself.  Shepherd is doing gothic/sci-fi retellings of classics.  So freaking cool.  I’d already bought her first book, The Madman’s Daughter, but never got around to reading it.  The Madman’s Daughter is based off of H.G. Wells The Island of Dr. Moreau and her next two books in the series will be based off of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Frankenstein.  She did not plan to write a trilogy, but at her editor’s suggestion, she developed this plan that incorporated other classics that were along the same “playing with science” vein.  I think that reading her books will be inspirational for my own writing, and I’m excited to check her books out!

And finally, there was the lovely Stephanie Perkins.  Upon meeting her, I’d planned to tell her that I loved how all of her characters (even the secondary ones) had their own interests and hobbies.  I found this made all her characters very endearing and lovable.  I was so pleasantly surprised when the topic of secondary characters came up in the panel discussion, and Perkins cited her inspiration for creating great secondary characters was J.K. Rowling!  I knew there was a reason I liked you Stephanie Perkins!  She talked about how she thinks it is so amazing that J.K. Rowling managed to create such a HUGE (thousands!) cast of secondary characters that are memorable in their own way.  Well, Stephanie Perkins, I believe you have successfully emulated J.K. Rowling because your secondary characters made your books stand out to me beyond the average contemporary fiction.  Kudos!

The only autograph I wanted was Perkins.  So I stood in line and had a short but lovely chat with her.  She has such a glowing, beautiful smile, as you can see in the pictures below!

Perkins 1

Perkins 2

Me and Perkins

Perkins Autograph

Love the message to be yourself, and very “Lola” appropriate!
Overall a great author event  🙂