Isla 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
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.