Isla and the Happily Ever After
YA Contemporary Romance
Published: August 2014
In the world of YA fiction, this third book in a series of loosely interconnect characters was highly anticipated. Readers return to the elite private school in Paris we were first introduced to in Anna and the French Kiss. Isla is a wonderfully quirky, charming gal whose hometown is NYC, and she crushes hard for dream boy Josh.
They're lovely people who make mistakes and survive many blunders both relatable and fantastic (not many of us have the dilemma of whether to share our secret Paris rooftop hideaway which overlooks the city. Oh, to have such problems). I enjoyed this same world in Anna and the French Kiss, and it's one of the few YA books I've reread in recent years. Both books are romances that don't pretend otherwise. Perkins has a distinct voice that nails the emotion of being young, naive, open, and impulsive. She's built a loyal fanbase, including myself, who want to be friends with her characters.
The curious point for me, as a writer as well as a reader, is only a certain type of author can get away with a book like this, mainly because not much happens in Isla and the Happily Ever After. If you study plot structure, or the Hero's Journey, or Save the Cat beat sheets or any other number of writing advice sources, reading something like this will either be a gentle reprieve from such frustrations as stage acts and turning points, or you may question, loudly, why nothing is happening other than a crush who doesn't show up for class one morning. The plot here is really secondary to the characters' experience and emotions. Sometimes I need a show like Breaking Bad or Hannibal, other times Rory's failing grade on Gilmore Girls fills what I'm looking for.
This is a book only Stephanie Perkins can write, and I'm grateful for her addition to young adult fiction. These are books about first love that will be exactly what you want if you already like her books. If you're a completist, then you're already going to read it anyway.