Isla and the Happily Ever After
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Release: August 14th 2014
Genre: Contemporary, YA
#3 in the Anna and the French Kiss trilogy
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.
Well, well, well. For a few seconds there, I thought this might turn disastrous, but Perkins really managed to catch the egg before it hit the ground and saved the novel from being a complete mess and instead turned it into a very beautiful lesson, if you ask me.
All in all, this novel is kind of silly, and stupid and also a bit cliché, yes, but I still ended up really liking it. For the simple reason that I can totally relate — while my personal experiences may not have ended as happily as Isla's (not yet, anyway), I still knew exactly what it feels like having a major, huge ass crush on a guy who doesn't know you exist for years, up until he suddenly does and out of nowhere, he suddenly likes you back and it's so surreal and too perfect to be true and you start doubting everything and so on. I've had it happen to me as well, and I thought that whole ordeal was realistically portrayed.
Still, it all felt a bit too squished up, happening way too fast, being over as soon as it started and all, you know? Isla and Josh start seeing each other and within a month they are so desperately, irrevocably in love they're telling each other how much they love each other all the goddamn time and it was like ... Where are all these feelings coming from? I mean, I remember back then I really did feel like I loved the guy, truly loved him too, but looking back now, I'm not sure that's really true. Plus, I at least had been friends with him for almost two years before he started returning my crush, so at least I knew him like the back of my hand. Isla, however, doesn't really know the first thing about Josh, beyond the normal, usual stalker info you get your hands on when you have a crush, but like his personality quirks and habits and all that, she has no clue. Neither does he. So where are they taking all these feelings from? It was the one thing that was completely unrealistic and just alienated me so much.
Because other than that, I loved how simplistic their relationship was and how ordinary. Their exchanges are awkward, embarrassing accidents happen, sometimes you say things you don't mean or that just slip out and it's unpleasant, but that's just how things turn out sometimes and I really, really appreciated this simplicity.
Also, the internal struggle within Isla was very tangible and realistic; there's this song by one of my favorite bands, Issues, called "Tears On The Runway (Pt 2)", that goes a little like this: What if I was wrong, and jumped to conclusions? / 'Cause the chance of losing you was all too dangerous / So I just assume that you're doing things before you get the chance / So I can leave and feel like I've got the upper hand. Honestly, I've done this before so many times and I love these lyrics because they ring true to me so much, and it's exactly what Isla did. She basically did a preemptive strike, leaving before she can be left, and I sympathize with that tactic a lot. It's not a healthy one, and I loved how she dealt with the aftermath. Because while at first, it seemed she would fall into a Bella-like trance of depression and inability to go on with life without her beloved Josh, she soon starts to realize what went wrong and takes measures to fix it. She reconciles with her best friend and sister whom she's mistakenly wronged in the process, she decides to do what she wants to do regardless of whether that correlates with Josh's plans for the future, etc. I loved the attitude she displayed towards the whole situation at the end.
Finally, the climax, or rather the resolution of the relationship drama and their getting back together was extremely sweet and, of course Perkins-style, way too good to be true, but still — it was outrageously cute and adorable, I can't even begrudge it its clichéd cheesyness.