**Warning! If you haven’t read Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door which are the first and second book in the Anna and the French Kiss companion trilogy by Stephanie Perkins, there will be spoilers ahead. You can read my review of the first book, and the second book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins is the third and final book in the Anna and the French Kiss companion series. I was hesitant going into the book because of the mixed reviews I had read but I feel awful for ever having doubted Stephanie Perkins because I really loved everything about Isla and Josh! In fact, my final ranking of the series in order of favorite to least favorite is 1. Anna, 2. Isla and 3. Lola. I’m honestly devastated that this series is over and I’m really hoping Stephanie Perkins will revist the world she created whether it be as short stories or further books following other secondary characters (particularly Meredith).
I went into Isla and the Happily Ever After expecting a formulaic third couple with the romance following the suit of Anna and Lola but this was the first of the pleasant surprises I encountered while reading. Isla and Josh become a couple very quickly. Instead of spending the majority of the book chasing each other, they’re clear on their feelings from the beginning and the reader is able to enjoy many more of the awww moments between them. I really enjoyed spending less pages on the build up and more on the actual relationship. Of course there are doubts and angst as with any high school romance, but I thought each character’s concerns were valid. I also really loved that while the book is about the love between Isla and Josh, it’s also largely a story about each of the characters figuring out what they want in life. Josh is certain of his future and Isla is anything but. Also notable are the secondary characters, particularly Isla’s best friend Kurt. Kurt is mildly autistic and since he hasn’t perfected social cues, he’s Isla’s complete voice of reason and truth, even when it’s not what she wants to hear.
The second surprise I encountered is that I had expected the majority of the book to take place in New York City because of the cover which depicts the NYC skyline and the fact that Anna focused on Pairs and Lola on San Francisco (with their covers each depicting the correlating skyline). However, Isla and Josh largely took place in Paris as well. And at the same high school Anna and Etienne attended. You may remember their artistic friend Josh would dated Rashmi? Well, that’s the same Josh who woos Isla. Isla is briefly mentioned in Anna as well but I honestly never would’ve put those pieces together if it hadn’t been spelled out for me. Part of my love for this book is because of all of the interconnectivity between past characters. While there is less physical involvement of past characters (until one part which just melted my heart and made me sob in public), their spiritual presence is of the upmost significance.
Final Thoughts: I am so sad this series is over and I absolutely forsee myself re-reading all three companion novels by Stephanie Perkins. Isla and the Happily Ever After is exactly that. I adored the romance between Isla and Josh and I was immediately drawn to each of their characters as individuals. It’s exciting to revisit the school in Paris that started it all and experience the interconnectedness between each tale. Overall, I loved Isla and the Happily Ever After and I would urge anyone who has heard negative reviews to ignore those!
Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?
Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.
Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series. (via Goodreads)