Remember last year I read Anna and the French Kiss? It was cute and refreshing. Then I read Stephanie Perkins’ awesome short story, “It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown.” And I assumed that Stephanie Perkins and I were a match made in heaven, best friends forever.
And then came Lola. And I still want to punch Lola in the face.
So, here we have book three in the “trilogy” that is made up of Anna, Lola, and Isla. Isla and the Happily Ever After. And while it is nowhere near as good as Anna, it certainly isn’t as cringeworthy as Lola (punch).
You may remember Isla as a very minor character in Anna…she was a junior at the Parisian high school where all of these epically cool and wealthy american kids went. She was very shy and kind and totally obsessed with Anna’s friend Josh, but Josh had a gorgeous and beautiful girlfriend, so Isla just pined away for him on the side.
This story is all about Isla and Josh and their rocky road to romance. But is isn’t only about teenage, angsty romance! It also teaches us about political campaigns, Spanish architecture, graphic novels, and autism.
What I liked about the story is that Isla acted like a normal teenage girl when she and Josh (SPOILER, but not really, as the title actually includes the words “HAPPILY EVER AFTER” ) broke up briefly. She was sort of nasty to everyone around her, ignored her family at the holidays, didn’t eat, checked her phone obsessively, and was just an all-around unpleasant character to read about. I didn’t really enjoy it, but I liked that it was kind of real.
I also sort of liked her friend Kurt. I was glad that he was a well-drawn, three-dimensional character. Not just “he’s autistic, so he acts this way”. I was happy to see him grow as a person and find that there was more in life and at school besides living in Isla’s shadow.
But I really didn’t love anything else. The more I read about Anna and St. Clair, the more annoying I find them. And Lola’s outfit in Paris made me cringe. I didn’t really need them to be in the book, at all. If we need to have all of these sequels about all of these crazy characters, what about one for Meredith? She seems interesting, yet we know almost nothing about her.
I guess as a grown-up human who has been married for a while, one of my main gripes with this series is that all of these characters are so, 100% ready to settle down with their boyfriend from when they were 18. Yes, of course, that happens a lot. But I am having trouble getting on board with all three of these couples living “happily ever after”.
Stephanie Perkins, I like you. I know you can write. I just need to read something new from you.
And when Cricket is brought to trial for murdering Lola, I’d be happy to act as a character witness in his defense.