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 was expecting to love Isla and the Happily Ever After – after all, I adored both Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door – but I wasn’t expecting Isla’s story to resonate with me quite as much as it did.
Most of this stems from the fact that I had an immediate connection with Isla’s character. I’m neither introverted nor frightened like she is, but Isla’s deep-rooted insecurities and her fears that she’s not worthy of love really hit home for me. Isla isn’t quite sure where her future is headed, but she’s still scared to take risks and leave her comfortable routine behind. Like Isla, I’m not entirely certain what adventures the future has in store for me: I started university with the dream of being a veterinarian and, thanks to a lack of practical experience and a slight drop in my GPA, I’ve come to the realization that even the best made plans aren’t set in stone. On many occasions, Stephanie Perkins’ words seemed to have come straight from my own thoughts and experiences, so I found myself easily invested in Isla’s journey of growth and self-assurance.
Isla’s relationship with Josh perfectly captures what it is to be young and in love. It’s a passionate, whirlwind romance that is sensual, intense, and visceral, and I sincerely hope that I am able to experience a romance like this in my lifetime. Their relationship isn’t perfect though; as with real life, Isla and Josh have many obstacles (jealousy, distance, integration of friend circles, etc.) to overcome in order to make it work.
As always, Stephanie Perkins managed to create a perfect love interest. Through Isla’s eyes, Josh truly comes alive – this artsy, charming, honest, passionate, beautiful boy is such a far cry from the disinterested slacker that I remembered from Anna and the French Kiss.
Overall, Isla and the Happily Ever After did more than just provide me with a swoonworthy romance; it tackled my deepest fears, leading to introspection and many, many tears on my part. As a result, Isla holds a very special place in my heart, and I can’t wait to revisit its pages time and time again.