Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Isla and her HEA is not about the where but about the who. It's Isla then it's Josh and then it's Isla AND Josh.
Isla is undefined but ready to be. In her we have somebody living an almost insulated life with her as yet determined goal. Contrast her to Josh who is clear on where he's going; thus, simply biding his time till he could get started, then in other instances, merely going through the motions of what's expected without thought, effort, or consideration. In them is a pair of people about to embark on beginnings of adulthood where emotions (theirs and mine) ran the gamut of messy and complicated then sweet and pitch-perfect romancewise. And it was lovely in doing so.
For Josh is a far from the ideal, as he holds himself apart from what the rest are up to; whereas Isla is wholly in the process of moving through young adulthood. It's them finding each other when they do that sets them and their story apart because this is not just a pair and a meet cute pulled suddenly progressing into a 'them' then apart by some situation/issue/drama and then pulled together again.
No, for their making is a slow one, a sweet one, but mostly, a plausible one. The last is particularly true as both learn to navigate through the other's past, as both come into this as more than the individuals they are; the relationships they are/were in, their (non) goals, the experiences they carry define a part of them; it's the recognition this last is allowed that mark things true because they aren't each others only's but could be.
More than them, this is Isla figuring out what it means to be her, opening herself to choosing a something not because it's what's expected or is what's done, but simply because she could. And this is also Josh, and seeing matters not defined by the way things were or the way things no longer are, instead seeing things as they could become. All these shifts and realizations, then choices and decisions make for a messy, sometimes hard yet definitely real and heart felt experience.
I LOVED this.
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