Isla and the Happily Ever After
Dutton, 2014 339 pgs
Isla runs into her longtime crush Josh (first seen in the companion novel Anna and the French Kiss) during the summer at a small cafe in New York City after she has just had her wisdom teeth removed and is on heavy-duty pain killers. They have an encounter and Josh helps her back to her house. Forward fast two months. The new school year has begun at the international boarding school in Paris, where both Isla and Josh are starting their senior year. Sparks fly, but a series of miscommunications keep them from crossing the line in their relationship. One obstacle is Kurt, Isla's best friend who has a mild form of Asperger's Syndrome. Josh assumes the friends are a couple and Kurt struggles with sharing Isla. Finally, Ilsa and Josh become a couple and fall madly in love. They travel together for a magical weekend in Barcelona, where they are missed upon their return and in big trouble. Josh, who already has a series of infractions, is expelled and sent back to the states. Isla remains at school, yet must suffer through daily detention. The relationship continues despite the long distance and Josh's father's very high-profile political campaign, Josh, an illustrator, shares with Isla his graphic biography of the past four years at boarding school. Ilsa becomes very jealous of the portrayal of his ex-girl friend and becomes insecure. Josh takes offense at her constructive comments and a huge argument ensues, resulting in a tragic and messy break-up. Back in France, Ilsa is miserable. Kurt makes new friends, leaving her feeling further alone. The book climaxes with a reunion of the former couple, including the characters of Perkins first two books in the series all coming together with a surprising conclusion.
I love me some Stephanie Perkins. Her books are light, fluffy, and highly addictive. She writes in the first person with very relatable characters, which enables the reader to experience falling in love through the characters eyes. Ilsa and the Happily Ever After is the long-awaited final book in her trilogy containing Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door. They are a loose trilogy, connected only by similar writing style, themes and structure and reoccurring characters. Isla is much like the first two: two people are attracted to each other, have a hard time connecting, finally connect, obstacles break them apart, then they get together at the end for their "happily ever after". This third book is bit different than the other two in that it feels a bit more mature and was more graphic. There are sexual situations and drinking, making it more appropriate for an older teen audience. Girls are the natural demographic for this book and will eat it up, just like the others in the series. Perkin's books are like delicious candy and once you start reading one of her books, its impossible to put down. At my library we can't keep our Stephanie Perkins books on the shelves and I'm sure that this book will be no exception. Now that the planned trilogy is over I am curious to see what direction Perkins will move onto next. Whatever it is, I'm sure to read it!