After years of waiting in agony, the third companion novel has finally been released. I was quite excited to get hold of this book that once the hardcover edition became available in one of the local bookstores, I immediately bought a copy. My collection is now complete, but it’s a bit disappointing that the cover of the third book doesn’t match the first two books I own. Regardless of that, I was jumping for joy to finally revisit Stephanie Perkins’ world.
Here’s the synopsis from the jacket cover of the book:
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.
Isla and Josh first appeared in Anna and the French Kiss. I don’t remember much of their characters in that book, but I’m glad Stephanie Perkins has given them the limelight in her latest work. The first scene of the story is quite entertaining to read because it gives me confidence that I’ll love Isla and Josh and how their love story would unfold to the readers. At the same time, given that I enjoyed the first two books of the companion novels, I fervently hope that Isla and the Happily Ever After would live up to my expectations.
From the moment Isla and Josh cross paths, their undeniable attraction towards each other has been made apparent. Here, we see a bit of Josh’s personality and his artistic skills, while Isla, on the other hand, is not her usual self, but in a way, unconsciously shows more of her characteristic due to her outspokenness caused by the medication from her dentist appointment. Isla has been put in an embarrassing situation, yet this marks the beginning of their unforgettable journey towards a happily ever after.
Stephanie Perkins definitely captures a realistic illustration of teenage love. Josh and Isla’s chemistry will make one feel giddy inside and reminisce his/her teenage years. I almost forget what it feels like to be a teenager, but Stephanie Perkins manages to remind me of it through Josh and Isla and make me feel nostalgic. From boy crushes to raging hormones and being rebellious, I enjoy having to witness it again. It’s both entertaining and reflecting as I can’t help but think how our priorities and values change as we grow older, and how simple our problems were before as compared to the endeavors we face as time passes. Josh and Isla surely have their fair share of teenage love drama coupled with the involvement of family drama. From what I normally see as shallow, I come to understand Isla’s breakdown and jealousy. It may come off as an exaggerated reaction, but surprisingly, I slowly empathize with her.
Unexpectedly, I become so invested in Josh and Isla’s characters that the challenges they’ve gone through would affect me just as much. Their feelings have reached my heart and made me become emotional as well to the point of almost tearing up at one scene. Stephanie Perkins surely knows how to reach into the hearts of her readers. Her characters are with flaws, but still likeable. I love how she includes a character like Kurt and that his role in the story isn’t forced. I’m pretty much impressed with the diversity of the characters. Moving on, apart from Josh and Isla’s love story, I’m glad Stephanie Perkins is also able to address other issues teenagers usually face – friendship, school, future, and the road to self-discovery. These make it easier for readers to relate to the characters more.
Overall, I love Isla and the Happily Ever After. Stephanie Perkins succeeds in luring me into the story and get lost in it. Her detailed narration of the setting even convinces me enough to want to visit Europe the soonest possible. It’s also an added treat to see old characters from Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door appear in this book. It’s like seeing old friends again after a long time. Fans of Anna and Lola would not be disappointed in this one. Isla and the Happily Ever After is both inspiring and magical. I’m so glad I get to witness Josh and Isla mature and grow both as an individual and as a couple. This definitely does not disappoint. I truly enjoy reading their love story. I wouldn’t ask for a better finale than this.