Isla and the Happily Ever After ~ Stephanie Perkins

I am so sad because I didn’t want this series to end Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins. Last in the series after Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door.

About Isla and the Happily Ever After

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Series: Anna and the French Kiss #3

Published by Dutton Books

Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Chick Lit

Rating : 4.5/5

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.

Initial Thoughts

Oh boy, what an amazing end to a series. I can’t believe it’s the end, but if it has to be, what a way to go. I was a bit skeptical at the start, but Isla won me over. This time its set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona;is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved Anna and the French Kiss series

Review of Isla and the Happily Ever After

Characters

In Isla and the Happily Ever After, we finally get to know the shy, quiet girl who we only briefly came across in Anna and the French Kiss, but who we knew had a crush on Josh Wasserstein. I didn’t expect her to have such strong, intense emotions. As another shy, quiet girl, I do know what it’s like for people to look at you and think you have nothing substantial to offer; and so I actually really loved getting to see the different perceptions of Isla. And boy was this story intense.

Isla is someone I could identify with immediately. She’s been admiring Josh from afar since she first saw him at school. He’s her dream guy. She’s what many might label a “hopeless romantic.”. What does it take to get the ball rolling with rebellious-yet-soulful-artist-boy Josh Wassertein? Being out of her skull on pain meds from wisdom teeth removal surgery, apparently; but hey if it gets her on Josh’s radar, it’s only a little embarrassing, right? Well, Isla doesn’t think so.

She’s got some insecurities, but they’re just amplified versions of common teenage anxieties. To say that her huge mega-crush on Josh affects her POV would be an understatement. Isla thinks of almost nothing else – though apparently she does think about schoolwork because she’s valedictorian – and even when she seems tied up in some other situation, her subconscious screams Josh. Obsessive at the start, she learns what it means to build a true relationship with someone.

Relationship

I was so drawn into Isla’s narrative that I initially completely agreed with her rationalizations. They made sense. She has solid reasons for her decisions. However, when she comes to question the truth of those reasons, I realized how fully her obsession had warped things out of proportion. This was an extremely masterful writing tactic, well done Stephanie Perkins. I did not see the ending coming at all.

Honestly, when I started reading Isla, my initial reaction was “Wow, this can’t end well.” Isla’s mindset just seems so unhealthy, it’s hard to imagine the relationship working on any level. Even though I wasn’t completely sure whether Isla and Josh should be in a relationship; I still wanted to fight for them. By the end, she’s been through the ups and downs of obsession and seen it drive things to the ground. Surprised by how hopeful I felt at the end compared to how I felt at the beginning.

And..

I don’t know how Stephanie does it, but I think her words just get to me more deeply than other authors. I basically can’t read her books in public. I’m always grinning like an idiot, but also occasionally squealing, throwing my hands in the air, and gasping in surprise. Yes, out loud. It’s all just so darn CUTE and I can’t control my reactions, which are often quite vocal.

I could go on about Isla for ages and, likely, still be unable to reveal anything concrete about the story without spoiling the tale for you. It’s all about Passion. Adolescence. Growth.

Closing Thoughts

It was fun getting to see their relationship develop outside of the boarding school setting, surprisingly, when they were in New York City and Barcelona. I also grew to enjoy the cameos from Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, which I wasn’t completely sure about in Lola. I said they felt like different characters, and yet in Isla I came to feel like perhaps that’s the point. We’re just seeing one perception of people all the time and it was refreshing to think, actually, is the way we see people actually the way they really are? And like most fans, I did rather enjoy that ending!

One more note: as a book that ends a trilogy series, the ending did not disappoint. All the ends were tied up, and the three books came together in ways I was not expecting. It was kinda perfect.

“I am hard on myself. But isn’t it better to be honest about these things before someone else can use them against you? Before someone else can break your heart? Isn’t it better to break it yourself?”


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