Paperback, 375 pages.
Release date: August 14th 2014.
Rating: 4½ out of 5.
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #3.
Other Books in Series: Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door.
Overall Series Rating: 4 out of 5.
The café is boiling. The atmosphere is clouded with bittersweet coffee.
Three years of desire rip through my body and burst from my lips: “Josh!”
His head jolts up. For a long time, a very long time, he just stares at me.
And then…he blinks. “Isla?”
Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on brooding artist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And, after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer break, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to face uncertainty about their futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.
Set against the stunning backdrops of New York, Paris and Barcelona, this is a gorgeous, heart-wrenching and irresistible story of true love, and the perfect conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.
Anna and Etienne were friends who flirted in Paris, while in San Francisco Lola fell in love with the boy next door. Isla and the Happily Ever after opens on a rainy night in Manhattan where fate and dentistry (yes, dentistry!) conspire to bring Isla and her crush –mysterious, enigmatic – Josh, together. Isla is in love, completely and utterly, heels- over-heels-in-totally-smitten love with Josh. Her crush is years long, but never acted upon, mainly because of Josh’s long-term relationship with now ex-girlfriend Rashmi, but also because Isla could never bring herself to actually speak to her crush. Until now. With the help of some strong (totally legal) drugs, Isla transforms. And she just can’t stop talking to Josh whom she encounters randomly in a late-night café where he’s drawing in his sketch-pad, just being his usual artist self. And he’s cute. He’s so cute. It’s got to be fate, right? Everything is going to be perfect. Because Josh and Isla, they fit just right.
Ah, this book. I have waited and waited for this book. I have wished for it and hoped for it and counted down the days to its arrival. Oftentimes when a book is as anticipated (hyped) as Isla and the Happily Ever After, I feel for both book and author. How can a book ever live up to such hype? All too often books don’t. But not this one. This one lives up to the hype. It more than lives up to the hype. Isla and the Happily Ever After, is, in a word, wonderful. In fact, ISLA, the third and (sadly) final instalment in Stephanie Perkins Anna and the French Kiss trio, is all kinds of wonderful. It’s no secret that Lola and the Boy Next Door wasn’t a huge favourite of mine – that I never full connected with the characters – but that certainly wasn’t the case here. The characters in Isla and the Happily Ever After totally worked for me, and like a warm hug from an old friend, this book, every page of it, felt like coming home.
But, of course, it can’t all be sunshine and roses, right? The course of true love never did run smooth, and It’s safe to say that Isla and Josh hit all kind of bumps on the road to their happily ever after, including but not confined to long-distance separation, phone-confiscation, parental interference, expulsion, insecurity, lack of confidence, petty jealousies, miscommunication – you know, all the usual suspects and then some. To me, Isla and Josh’s relationship read very real – I’ve heard some people say that it moved too fast (in Barcelona!), but it didn’t feel like that to me – and, in fact, it was Isla’s reaction to the relationship that made me really relate to her character in a way that I never related to Anna (very confident) or Lola (very quirky). Isla, in many ways, is an every girl, and like every girl, or maybe just some girls, once she gets what she wants, she starts to question her good fortune: or maybe she just questions herself. Thankfully, she has a good friend in Kurt Donald Cobain Bacon (his actual name) to listen to her fears and give her a shoulder to cry on.
I love the attention to detail in Stephanie Perkins novels; the little character quirks, the importance of names and their meanings and how they can make a person and shape a person. I LOVE her boys. Okay, so just like Lola, I didn’t quite connect to Cricket, but I had a total crush on Etienne. And I pretty much fell for Josh too. Josh is the guy I’d fall for in real life –not Etienne. (Shocking, I know, but I’ve always had a thing for arty types.) Josh is crush worthy, sure, but he’s also written as a pretty real teenage boy, and while there’s a whole lot appealing about Josh, he also messes up; sometimes he doesn’t think things through – and sometimes he gets lost in his artist bubble which causes him to make a faux pas or two. (Yep, I’m talking rabbits! Oh, those rabbits!) Overall, though, Josh is a good guy – the thoughtful, sensitive (and also really good-looking) type. The kind of guy a girl could easily fall in love with.
Isla is the perfect conclusion to a wonderful series, but I feel like the series could totally continue, you know? What about another book with Meredith in Rome? That would totally work. I mean, Rome! How could it not work? Before I go, I have to mention those characters of old. Yes, St. Clair and Anna are here, and yes, Lola and Cricket too. Perkins has some surprises in store for her readers, and, as always with her books, this one made me smile throughout. Stephanie Perkins writes totally happy-making books.
So, was Isla worth the wait? Do you really have to ask?! I loved this book. Loved it.
ISLA gets a 4.5 from me – and it was almost a perfect five star read – but I enjoyed ANNA just a little bit more, and it’s still my favourite of the series, so that’s the explanation for the missing .5. That said, Isla is still one of my favourites of 2014. I just want to read it over and over again.