Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

4 Stars

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.

Aren’t we all a little nutty when it comes to a really great read? And, you guys, Isla is a REALLY GREAT READ.

For starters: though Isla and the Happily Ever After is part of a series, it stands all on its own, which as a blogger/book recommender, I really appreciate. I can shove this book at people Imean You can pick right up with this book and enjoy it completely (though, after you do, please at least read Anna and the French Kiss, because it makes me every bit as happy as this book, and maybe even a little more). Isla and Josh are fully-fledged characters who don’t rely on story from the first books to prop them up, and as far as character development and psychology go, I think these two are my favorite in all of Perkins’ work. Isla is quirky, unsure, smart, and has fleeting bursts of raw bravery that she doesn’t view as a real part of her personality; those around her see them as a defining part of her disarming charm. Josh, of whom we saw only small, brooding glimpses in Anna, shines here in his willingness to be vulnerable, passionately honest and open about his feelings, and immediately trusting. Watching the two of them get together is a bit like watching a bonfire ignite–you know it’s going to be a little terrifying and almost uncontrollable, but really warm and wonderful, too. And maybe the kind of entertainment you want to come back to with marshmallows.

(PS, this scene is not as crazy as it sounds.)

I trace the ink on my body. His beautiful illustrations are smeared with streaks of gooey chocolate. Reluctantly, I turn on my shower. The steam is already billowing when I climb in. The hot water hits me, and purple-black ink floods down my body.

It touches everything.

He is everywhere.

I’m not even sure where to start discussing the writing. I started reading at 4 pm and was so excited to see how far I could get before I had to make dinner in two hours. I finished the book at 9:30. Considering that my last book took me TEN DAYS to finish, I’d say that was engaging! Perkins captures the nuances of falling in love so beautifully–the little thrills, the insecure thoughts, the tiny little touches, and the great, big swells. It’s just great fun reading her novels and being swept up in the joy of finding love again. I have several pages tagged, and it turns out that most of them are lovely passages about the way we think when we’re starting to fall in love.

My heart pounds feverishly in my ears. I glance around the room, but the other girls appear to be at ease. Why doesn’t he have the same effect on them that he has on me? Don’t they see him?

Perkins is fantastic at getting those innermost thoughts on the page, and I love that kind of writing. The settings–hopping back and forth between Paris and New York, with a little side-visit elsewhere–were painted beautifully, and the Treehouse was my absolute favorite, especially after Josh helped decorate it. That, in fact, was my favorite scene in the book. I got teary right along with Isla.

Really, I loved pretty much everything about this book, and the only reason it’s not getting 5 stars is because it was a little over the swearing threshold I’m comfortable with. FYI, there are also a couple of short sex scenes, and it does cross over into just barely descriptive–I didn’t find it uncomfortable, at all, but you might want to be aware, when it comes to giving this one to your kids.

Love this story tons, and I can’t wait until enough time has passed that I can re-read it. I’m so pleased that this is the way the Anna/Lola/Isla stories came to an end. Isla and the Happily Ever After releases today!

Favorite Quote: 

Josh grins. “Just give me your hand.”


“Your hand,” he repeats. “Give it to me.”

I extend my shaking right hand. And–in a moment that is a hundred dreams come true–Joshua Wasserstein laces his fingers through mine. A staggering shock of energy shoots straight into my veins. Straight into my heart.

“There,” he says. “I’ve been waiting a long time to do that.”

Not nearly as long as I’ve been waiting.

4 Stars

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