Isla and the Happily Ever by Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever After was one of my highly anticipated releases for this year since I really enjoyed reading both Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door. Those titles are quite a mouthful, aren’t they? I kept seeing other bloggers post pictures of their review copies of Isla and this just made me want to read the book more. Also, I’m still bummed that Stephanie Perkins visited Manila and I wasn’t able to attend the event (so many authors have visited the Philippines since I moved to Singapore). I was so excited when I finally got a copy of Isla so of course, I read it as soon as I could.

Isla and the Happily Ever AfterHere’s the summary from Goodreads:

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 really enjoyed reading Isla and the Happily Ever After and I think I like it just as much or maybe even a bit more than Anna and the French Kiss. Isla and Josh are both great characters. I liked how there’s so much more to them that what was previously shown in the first book. I found it interesting that Isla is named after an island because “isla” is the Filipino word for island (pronounced is-lah instead of eye-lah though). I always think it’s awesome when of the characters in the book I’m reading is a reader herself. I could understand Isla’s thirst for adventure and how she satisfies that thirst by reading books. Also, how cute is it that Isla and Josh bonded over Joann Sfar? They made me want to read his graphic novels even though I’m not much of a graphic novel reader. I could really relate to Isla and her insecurities about not having a clue about what she wants to do in terms of her career – heck, I’m a decade older than her and I’m still figuring things out. I could also understand how she’s so forgiving of others but so hard on herself, to the point where she questions whether she’s worthy of being loved. I loved her friendship with Kurt and how she had to learn how to balance having a guy best friend with having a boyfriend. On a counterpoint to Isla’s ambiguity, Josh is very passionate about his art and he knows that he wants to pursue a degree that would enable him to focus on this field. My artistic talent is limited to stick figures so I’m always in awe of artists. I enjoyed reading about Josh and his art and would have loved to see samples of them if that was possible.

Isla and the Happily Ever After is partially set in New York, Paris and Barcelona. I’ve never been to New York so I can’t really say anything about the scenes set there. But having read Laura Florand’s vivid and detailed descriptions of Paris, I feel like Stephanie Perkins’ imagery pales in comparison. Isla mentions that she’s comfortable enough in Paris for it to feel like home but I don’t think she was able to portray that in a believable way. I did love the Barcelona scenes since they were from the perspective of tourists, with both Josh and Isla visiting the city for the first time. It reminded me of my own trip there earlier this year because we visited the same tourist spots, mostly the sites of Gaudi’s work.

I think Stephanie Perkins excels in portraying realistic teenage romance. She gets how awkward it is to have a serious crush on someone. And how tentative things are at the start when the two parties realize that what they feel might be mutual and there’s just all this tension between Isla and Josh. Then it transforms into a new-found relationship that makes both of them giddy with happiness. Even the issues that they they had to deal with felt authentic. I was really rooting for them and the way they changed and matured throughout the course of the novel was satisfying. I had so much fun reading this book and would recommend it to any fan of YA contemporary.

Here are some pictures from my Barcelona trip that are related to the book. Casa Batllo is probably my favorite Gaudi-designed house:
Barcelona - Casa Batllo Barcelona - Casa Batllo (2)

The awe-inspiring Sagrada Familia:
Barcelona - Sagrada Familia1 Barcelona - Sagrada Familia

On top of the world a.k.a. the view of Barcelona from Parc Guell:
Barcelona 2014 - view from Parc Guell

14 thoughts on “Isla and the Happily Ever by Stephanie Perkins

  1. She excels at those awkward/crazy-in-love emotions, doesn’t she? I really enjoyed ISLA as well. May be time for an ANNA re-read…

    Love your Barcelona photos – it’s been years since I’ve been there, but I’ll never forget those Gaudi-designed houses. Looks as though you had beautiful weather when you were out there!


    • She really does a good job in describing teenage romance. Yeah, it’s been a while since I last read Anna. Let’s see if I’m able to reread it soon.

      What’s funny is that I had no idea who Gaudi was prior to visiting Barcelona, but now I’m a fan of his work. The weather was weird when we were there, sunny and hot on some days while rainy on others. I’m just glad I was able to take nice pictures. 😀

  2. Such a good book! I was SO NERVOUS about Isla because I didn’t fall for LOLA the way everyone else did. But she was wonderful-and so, of course, was Josh (Though what else can you expect from Étienne’s best friend??). I REALLY want a novella from the end of the book now, too!

    Also, thanks so much for including your Barcelona pictures. They were lovely to look at!

    • Really, everyone fell for Lola? Haha I remember enjoying it but I didn’t really love it. I liked Anna more than Lola. I wish the ending of Isla was a bit longer too, I wouldn’t mind knowing what happens after.

      Glad you like the Barcelona pictures. 🙂 I thought it would be more fitting to include them rather than Paris pictures.

  3. Love the Barcelona pics, Chachic! And nobody does Paris like Laura Florand. I didn’t even LIKE Paris when I went there, but her imagery makes me want to go back and see that city through new eyes. I’ll see if I can’t weigh in on the New York perspective when I read it…probably starting it today in fact. =)

    • And nobody does Paris like Laura Florand.

      YES! Totally agree. Aww why didn’t you even LIKE Paris when you were there? I thought it was a great city. I loved all the old structures, the buildings and bridges and everything else. Felt like there was so much history there. Very different from how Manila feels like.

      Oh yes, let me know if the New York perspective is accurate. Isla is the next book for YAckers, right? Sigh, I don’t know if I’m willing to go back to Facebook. It’s been so nice not to have it the past few days.

      • I went to Paris when I was only 17, and I wonder if I’d have a different perspective now. It seemed dirty, cold, and mean when I was there. It was probably my least favorite place I visited in Europe. I agree with you on her lack of ability to really infuse anything into setting though. The NYC scenes could have been anywhere…any of them could have been anywhere! Setting is really important to me, in fact, it’s often my favorite aspect of a book, so to have it fall so flat is really disappointing. Not sure I’m even going to finish Isla tbqh.

      • Paris WAS dirty and cold when I was there. Not mean though, but maybe that’s because we mostly went to tourist spots and we had a friend with us who is fluent in French. I think I wasn’t disappointed in Paris because I was warned about all those things, I didn’t built it up in mind as this perfect and romantic place.

        I’m glad you agree with me about the setting! I was starting to wonder if I was the only one who felt that way. So NYC also wasn’t described well? Character development is usually my favorite aspect of a book but setting is important too. Some of the books I loved had settings that were so vivid, they felt like characters. I’m sorry to hear that Isla isn’t working out for you.

  4. I haven’t read anything by Laura Florand. I will have to check her stuff out. I definitely liked Isla and the Happily Ever After and I’m so glad to hear you liked it too. I loved Isla’s friendship with Kurt. Strong friendships always make me happy.

    • Quinn, if you enjoy adult contemporary romance then you HAVE to read Laura Florand’s books. Chocolate, Paris and hot guys. 😀 Strong friendships in fiction also make me happy. I really liked Kurt and Isla’s friendship and how important they are to each other even though they’re dating other people.

    • No prob! I always try to include pictures when the book is set in a place I’ve been to or reminds me of a place I’ve visited. I think the general consensus is that Isla is an enjoyable read. 🙂

  5. I just had warm fuzzy feelings after finishing Isla and the Happily Ever After! It was such a fun, sweet novel, and I totally loved how everything played out for Isla and Josh. I really like Josh (he’s my favorite Perkins boy), and it’s all because of the things we learn about him and the things he does and says in this book!

    • Stephanie Perkins is good at giving readers warm, fuzzy feelings. 🙂 Isla and Josh’s relationship felt realistic and I like how it developed too. I loved how Isla only had eyes for Josh, and it was mentioned that everyone else crushes on Etienne but she thinks Josh is better.

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