Series: Anna and The French Kiss, #3
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Release Date: August 14, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Source: Bought it
Goodreads | Purchase
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’ve just finished this book and I feel as if I’m floating high on cloud nine. I’ll try my best to make this review coherent and not just endless gushing, but it’s quite difficult when Perkins writes these stories that just have such an emotional impact on my mood. I went from having a semi bad day to feeling completely ecstatic while reading this novel. I think it really says something when an author can create such palpable and real emotions from words. It’s no doubt in my mind that Perkins has some sort of magic and clear talent when it comes to writing.
I found the main character to be utterly realistic, relatable and endearing. I couldn’t help but inherently relate to Isla, as I’m also in the same sort of position as her. I’m the same age and I’m definitely experiencing that feeling of uncertainty regarding the future. While I found the other stories in this series to focus more on the relationships (which is definitely okay with me too) you get so see Isla really grow and mature in this story. Isla and The Happily Ever After is every bit a romance as it is a story about growing up and dealing with that difficult time period right in between adulthood and the familiar teenage years. While reading this story I felt like I was also going on a journey with her and it would be quite fair to say there was plenty of well done character development with Isla. Though Isla wasn’t perfect, there were definitely circumstances in which I felt frustrated with her choices or ideas. However, Perkins gave me deep insight and snapshots of Isla’s reasons for these choices and it’s because of this that I was able to not only connect with Isla but also understand and sympathize with her.
Josh was the love interest and it’s quite clear to me that I fell for him just as much as Isla. What I love about this series is how Perkins continues to develop the love interests beyond just being love interests. They’re actually multi-dimensional and complex characters who add so much to the storyline. They certainly aren’t static and bring change to the main character, all while changing themselves. Josh was no exception to this and I couldn’t help but to adore him almost right from the very beginning. Like Isla he also continues to develop quite well, and I was interested to see how much importance was placed on his passion for art. He really fueled him and I could see that passion through Perkins’ words. Josh also had a very interesting relationship with his parents, they were largely absent from his life and it was partially due to his own doing. This strained relationship definitely had an effect on Josh’s personality/actions and through the novel we do see some growth and change of the relationship which felt realistic to real life.
The romance, oh god the romance. It was a lot different from the other two books in the series. There was definitely some insta attraction going on with Josh and Isla. I would argue there wasn’t insta love though it was definitely more fast paced. I think that some could interpret Josh and Isla’s relationship to be insta love but I think it’s so much more than that. There was strong mutual attraction on both sides prior to the relationship starting and I think this definitely plays a factor in why the relationship moved along quicker than the norm. Their interactions with each other were plenty and definitely swoon worthy. It’s based on these interactions that a real connection could be forged between the two and it really did remind me of a genuine highschool relationship with how the two of them acted around each other. Honestly I couldn’t get enough of these two together. However the more quickly a relationship forms, the more quickly it crashes. This was done in a way that felt realistic and it made sense. Yes, I was mentally taxed (Perkins is a master at making you feel all of the emotions) by how this great relationship turned completely around but it was done in a way that didn’t feel too dramatic and in the end things worked out in the best. It allowed for growth and rebirth of a relationship which was beautiful to see.
Something I enjoyed in Isla and The Happily Ever After is how there were many relationships showed, not just the main romantic one between Isla and Josh. There wasn’t on familial ones present but one between Isla and her best friend that made me sing. Her friendship with Kurt (her best friend) resonated with me on a very personal level. Kurt has high functioning autism which is exactly what my older brother has. I was a little nervous when I heard that this would be the case, but I was really worried for nothing. Perkins respectfully showcases what life is like for people who have high functioning autism and showcases some of the very real aspects of it, such as bullying and how awkwardly some people react to somebody with it. I couldn’t help but compare some of Kurt’s actions to my brothers. I can tell you in all honesty that high functioning autism is portrayed in a very realistic way. There’s obviously some differences between Kurt and my brother, but it’s clear that Perkins has done her research. Through Kurt’s repetitiveness, inability to lie and brute honesty I could really see pieces of my brother. Also, I loved how Kurt was more than somebody with high functioning autism though, he was portrayed on a much deeper level. It was just wonderful to have Perkins to write a character like Kurt and it personally means so much to see this diversity and representation. I hope more people will be aware of high functioning autism and how it effects a person who has it when they read this story.
Isla and The Happily Ever After takes place in Paris, New York and even Barcelona. Perkins’ writing really transported me to these locations and even if they weren’t the centerpiece of the writing, I felt immersed in these places. There was descriptions of famous landmarks, food, people and much more that really just allowed the culture of these places to really shine. Sometimes in contemporaries I feel as if it doesn’t really matter where the story is set, or that the setting really could be anywhere. In Perkins’ novels it’s almost like the setting is a character itself, with vivid descriptions and it’s meaning to the characters. Isla and The Happily Ever After is no exception to this and I found the travel bug in me just buzzing. If I would have to pick a favorite location in this novel, it would be Barcelona. Oh god guys, Barcelona. Once you read the scenes in city you’ll understand why I’m so enamored.
Overall Isla and The Happily Ever After is a wonderful conclusion to the Anna and The French Kiss series. This book can definitely be read on its own though, but why wouldn’t you want to be swept up by the amazing romances, great writing and characters of this series?
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