Isla and the Happily Ever After

Isla and the Happily Ever After

4.6 36
by Stephanie Perkins
     
 

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“Stephanie Perkins’s characters fall in love the way we all want to, in real time and for good.” —Rainbow Rowell, Award-winning, bestselling author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl

A New York Times Bestseller 

Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a

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Overview

“Stephanie Perkins’s characters fall in love the way we all want to, in real time and for good.” —Rainbow Rowell, Award-winning, bestselling author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl

A New York Times Bestseller 

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/04/2014
Perkins (Anna and the French Kiss) completes her trilogy of interlinked romances with a strong finale that examines the emotional intensity of a relationship from its earliest stages. Isla, a senior at the School of America in Paris, has had a crush on fellow senior Josh since freshman year, but it is only now that he reciprocates her feelings; their relationship quickly gathers steam. Perkins takes full advantage of her romantic Parisian setting, though the intimacy she establishes between her characters through penetrating dialogue and insight into the agonies and ecstasies of first love would shine anywhere. When Josh gets expelled and the couple becomes estranged, Isla spirals into despair that Perkins explores with aching intensity. Isla's vulnerability, coupled with her burgeoning sense of identity and desire to maintain her individuality in life and in love, makes her an especially rich character. The supporting cast, including Isla's high-functioning autistic friend Kurt, her prickly younger sister, and Josh himself are equally well realized, and the author's fans will enjoy appearances from characters from past books, too. Ages 14–up. Agent: Kate Schafer Testerman, kt literary. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"Stephanie Perkins is the Jane Austen of our generation. Her stories ache, soothe, and leave you breathless with joy; there's true magic in these pages — it's an experience you won't soon forget." —Tehereh Mafi, author of the bestselling Shatter Me series.

"Fans of literary heart flutters will love it." —Booklist

"Realistic characters, spot-on dialogue, and a truly delightful romance make for a novel that will delight the author’s fans and win her legions of new ones.” —School Library Journal, starred review

"Engaging teen characters with page-turning love lives offer ample vicarious pleasures. A satisfying dose of first love’s physical and emotional thrall." —Kirkus Reviews

“Dazzling and full of raw emotion...With a smooth plot, colorful characters and witty dialogue, Perkins further establishes herself as an expert writer whose career is sure to be long and full of bright things.” —RT Book Reviews, Top Pick

Praise for Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door:

"Perkins’s debut surpasses the usual chick-lit fare with smart dialogue, fresh characters and plenty of tingly interactions." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Absorbing and enjoyable." —Booklist

"Very sly. Very funny. Very romantic. You should date this book." —Maureen Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of 13 Little Blue Envelopes and The Name of the Star

“A swoonworthy romance [with] a cast of unforgettable characters . . . Lola and the Boy Next Door is another unputdownable read.” —MTV.com

"Smart and sensual, Anna and the French Kiss is everything your heart is longing for. You'll want to live inside this story forever. More, s'il vous plait!" —Lisa McMann, New York Times bestselling author of the Wake Trilogy

"You're going to fall in love with Lola and the Boy Next Door. Madly in love! Every page sparkles." —Sarah Mylnowski, author of Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn't Have) and the Whatever After series

VOYA, October 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 4) - Pam Carlson
Oh, the drama of true love, especially in Paris. Isla has had a crush on cool, ridiculously handsome Josh for three years. Finally, in their senior year at a private school in the city of love, their happily—ever-after begins—and ends—and resumes—and ends—and resumes—all with tremendous passion. No one seems to care that they are having sex as often as possible, but Josh’s disregard for the school rules, including leaving school without permission for their first overnight together to Barcelona, gets him expelled. Isla is devastated. Even Kurt, her inseparable friend since toddlerhood, is hanging out with new people. Josh’s political duties (he is the son of a senator) keep him busy over the holidays, when they are both in America. He gives her his autobiography in graphic novel form, but that is the final straw for Isla, when she sees page after page of his former girlfriend, Rashmi, in all of her glorious nakedness while Isla only rates a few pages at the end. Devastation again. Will the promise of the title be fulfilled? Readers who enjoy tales of self-absorbed, do-not-think-of-consequences, privileged teens will discover the answer. Others may wish to reread The Fault In Our Stars (Penguin, 2012/Voya April 2012) for their romantic fix. Happily Ever After is a companion title to Anna And The French Kiss (Penguin, 2010/Voya December 2010) and Lola And The Boy Next Door (Penguin, 2011). Reviewer: Pam Carlson; Ages 15 to 18.
School Library Journal
★ 07/01/2014
Gr 9 Up—When Isla, loopy on medication after a dentist appointment, finds herself in the same Manhattan café as her crush object, Josh, she's able to do something she's never managed in the three years they've attended the same boarding school in Paris: talk to him. Lo and behold, it turns out that he likes her too, and once they're back in France, a relationship blossoms. Alas, the course of true love never did run smooth, and pressures both internal (Isla's self-doubt) and external (Josh's father's Senate reelection campaign) force them apart. Is their love strong enough to bring them back together? Fans will relish appearances by characters from Perkins's Anna and the French Kiss (2011) and Lola and the Boy Next Door (2013, both Dutton) in this sweet, charming series third that will make readers feel like they're in Paris too. Realistic characters, spot-on dialogue, and a truly delightful romance make for a novel that will delight the author's fans and win her legions of new ones.—Stephanie Klose, Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
2014-07-16
Engaging teen characters with page-turning love lives offer ample vicarious pleasures. Petite, red-haired Isla (that's "eye-la") has had a hopeless crush on introverted artist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. Their chance meeting before senior year catalyzes a wish-come-true relationship that threatens Isla's unusual friendship with best friend Kurt and makes her question her identity and future. Perkins' characters are quirky and three-dimensional, and their sometimes-startling actions make them seem even more real: Isla and Kurt routinely share a bed; Josh depicts losing his virginity in his graphic novel; Isla and Josh enjoy a steamy weekend trip to Barcelona. They're discovered, and Josh is expelled, but love persists despite distance and restricted phone privileges. In fact, their greatest threat comes from within—Perkins accurately depicts the kind of thinking that helps lovers invent their own problems: Isla's insecurities (why should Josh love her when she doesn't have a driving passion or vision of her future?) threaten the relationship ("I have to destroy what's left of my heart before he can do it for me"). The titular "happily-ever-after" is as predictable as it is sweet, featuring fan-pleasing cameos of characters from Perkins' two companion books. A satisfying dose of first love's physical and emotional thrall. (Fiction. 14 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780142426272
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
08/04/2015
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

Read an Excerpt

chapter one

It’s midnight, it’s sweltering, and I might be high on Vicodin, but that guy—that guy right over there—that’s him.

The him.

His posture is as familiar as a recurring dream. Shoulders rounded down, head cocked to the right, nose an inch from the tip of his pen. Absorbed. My heart swells with a painful sort of euphoria. He’s close, only two tables over and facing my direction. The café is boiling. The atmosphere is clouded with bittersweet coffee. Three years of desire rip through my body and burst from my lips:

“Josh!”

His head jolts up. For a long time, a very long time, he just stares at me. And then. . . he blinks. “Isla?”

“You know my name. You can pronounce my name.” Most people call me Iz-la, but I’m Eye-la. Island without the nd. I erupt into a smile that immediately vanishes. Ouch.

Josh glances around, as if searching for someone, and then cautiously sets down his pen. “Uh, yeah. We’ve sat beside each other in a ton of classes.”

“Five classes beside each other, twelve classes together total.”

A pause.

“Right,” he says slowly. Another pause. “Are you okay?”

A guy who looks like a young Abraham Lincoln with a piercing fetish tosses a single-page laminated menu onto my table.

I don’t look at it. “Something soft, please.”

Abe scratches his beard, weary.

“But no tomato soup, chocolate pudding, or raspberry applesauce. That’s all I’ve had to eat today,” I add.

“Ah.” Abe’s mood lightens. “You’re sick.”

“No.”

His mood darkens again. “Whatever.” He snatches up the menu. “Allergic to anything? You kosher? Vegetarian?”

“Huh?”

“I’ll have a look in the kitchen.” And he stalks away.

My gaze returns to Josh, who is still watching me. He looks down at his sketchbook, and then back up, and then back down. Like he can’t decide if we’re still having a conversation. I look down, too. I’m getting the increasingly alarming notion that if I keep talking, tomorrow I might have something to regret.

But. . . as if I can’t help it—because I can’t, not when I’m around him—I glance up. My veins throb as my eyes drink him in. His long, beautiful nose. His slender, assured arms. His pale skin is a few shades darker from the summer sun, and his black tattoo peeks out from underneath his T-shirt sleeve.

Joshua Wasserstein. My crush on him is near unbearable.

He looks up again, too, and I blush. Blushing. The curse of redheads everywhere. I’m grateful when he clears his throat to speak. “It’s strange, you know? That we’ve never run into each other before.”

I leap in. “Do you come here often?”

“Oh.” He fidgets with his pen. “I meant in the city? I knew you lived on the Upper West, but I’ve never seen you around.”

My chest tightens. I knew that about him, but I had no idea that he knew that about me. We attend a boarding school for Americans in Paris, but we spend our breaks in Manhattan. Everybody knows that Josh lives here, because his father has one of the New York seats in the United States Senate. But there’s no reason for anyone to remember that I live here, too.

“I don’t get out often,” I blurt. “But I’m starving, and there’s nothing to eat at home.” And then, somehow, I’m dropping into the empty seat across from him. My compass necklace knocks against his tabletop. “My wisdom teeth were removed this morning, and I’m taking all of these medications, but my mouth is still sore so that’s why I can only eat soft foods.”

Josh breaks into his first smile.

Accomplishment puffs up inside of me. I return the smile as full as I can, even though it hurts. “What?”

“Painkillers. It makes sense now.”

“Oh, shit.” I tuck up a leg and smack my kneecap on the table. “Am I acting that loopy?”

He laughs with surprise. People always laugh, because they don’t expect words like shit to come out of someone so petite, someone with a voice so quiet, so sweet. “I could just tell something was different,” he says. “That’s all.”

“Side effects include the cruel combination of exhaustion and insomnia. Which is why I’m here now.”

Josh laughs again. “I had mine extracted last summer. You’ll feel better tomorrow.”

“Promise?”

“Not really. But definitely in a few days.”

Our smiles fade into a reflective silence. We’ve rarely spoken to each other at school and never outside of it. I’m too shy, and he’s too reserved. Plus, he had the same girlfriend for, like, forever.

Had.

They broke up last month, right before her graduation. Josh and I still have our senior year to go. And I wish there were a logical reason for him to show a sudden interest in me, but . . . there’s not. His ex was tenacious and outspoken. My opposite. Maybe that’s why I’m startled when I find myself pointing at his sketchbook, eager to prolong this temporary state. This miracle of conversation.

“What are you working on?” I ask.

His arm shifts to block the exposed drawing, someone resembling a young Abe Lincoln. “I was just. . . messing around.”

“That’s our server.” I grin. Ouch.

He looks a bit sheepish as he pulls back his arm, but he only shrugs. “And the couple in the corner.”

We’re not alone?

I twist around to discover a middle-aged man and woman, all the way in the back, sharing a copy of the Village Voice. There isn’t anyone else here, so at least I’m not too out of it. I don’t think. I turn back to Josh, my courage rising.

“May I see that?”

I asked. I can’t believe that I asked. I’ve always wanted to look inside of his sketchbooks, always wanted to hold one. Josh is the most talented artist at our school. He works in several mediums, but his real passion is the comic form. I once overheard him say that he’s working on a graphic novel about his life.

An autobiography. A diary. What secrets would it contain?

I content myself with doodles viewed over his shoulder, paintings drying in the art studio, sketches tacked to the doors of his friends. His style is almost whimsical. It’s melancholy and beautiful, completely his own. The lines are careful. They reveal that he pays attention. People don’t think he does, because he daydreams and skips class and neglects his homework, but when I see his drawings, I know they’re wrong.

I wish he would look at me the way that he looks at his subjects. Because then he’d see there’s more to me than shy, just like I see there’s more to him than slacker.

My cheeks burn again—as if he could hear my thoughts—but then I realize. . . he is studying me. Have I overstayed my welcome? His expression grows concerned, and I frown. Josh nods toward the table. His sketchbook is already before me.

I laugh. He does, too, though it’s tinged with confusion.

His book is still open to the work in progress. A thrill runs through me. On one page, Abe’s face stares with boredom at the sketchbook’s spine. Even the rings in his septum, eyebrows, and ears seem dull and annoyed. On the opposite page, Josh has perfectly captured the middle-aged couple’s studious, gentle frowns.

I touch a corner, one without ink, oh so lightly. To prove to myself that this moment is real. My voice turns reverent. “These are amazing. Is the whole thing filled with portraits like this?”

Josh closes the sketchbook and slides it back toward himself. Its pages are thick with use. On the cover is a blue sticker shaped like America. A single word has been handwritten across it: WELCOME. I don’t know what that means, but I like it.

“Thanks.” He gives me another smile. “It’s for whatever, but yeah. Mainly portraits.”

“And you’re allowed to do that?”

His brow creases. “Do what?”

“Like, you don’t need their permission?”

“To draw them?” he asks. I nod, and he continues. “Nah. I’m not using these for anything special. This isn’t even my good sketchbook. See? I can’t remove the pages.”

“Do you do this a lot? Draw strangers?”

“Sure.” He reaches for his coffee cup with an index finger. There’s a splotch of black ink near his nail. “To be good at anything you have to practice.”

“Do you wanna practice on me?” I ask.

Pink blossoms across Josh’s cheeks as Abe slaps down two dishes. “Chicken broth and cheesecake,” Abe says to me. “That’s all we had.”

“Merci,” I say.

“De nada.” Abe rolls his eyes and walks away.

“What’s with that guy?” I ask, shoveling in the cheesecake. “Ohmygod, sogood.” I mumble this through a full mouth. “Youwannabite?”

“Uh. No, thanks.” Josh seems flustered. “You look hungry.”

I begin happily devouring the rest.

“So you live close by?” he asks, after a few moments.

I swallow. “Two minutes away.”

“Me too. Ten minutes.”

I must look surprised, because he continues. “I know. Weird, right?”

“That’s cool.” I glug my broth. “Ohmygod. This is incredible.”

He watches me quietly for another minute. “So. . . you were serious? You wouldn’t mind if I sketched you?”

“Yeah, I’d love that.” I love youuuuuuuuu. “What should I do?”

“Don’t worry about it. Just keep doing what you’re doing.”

“Ha! You’ll draw me eating like a horse. No. A pig. I meant pig. Do I mean a pig or a horse?”

Josh shakes his head in amusement. He opens the sketchbook to a new page and looks up. His eyes lock on to mine. I’m dumbstruck.

Hazel.

The word adds itself to my internal list of Facts About Josh. Sometimes his eyes had seemed green, sometimes brown. Now I know why.

Hazel. Josh’s eyes are hazel.

I float into a green-brown fog. The scritch of his pen mingles with the scratch of an old folk song coming from the speakers. Their combined tune is yearning and turmoil and anguish and love. Outside, storm clouds burst. Rain and wind join the score, and I hum along. My head clunks against a window.

I sit up, startled. My bowl and plate are empty. “How long have I been here?”

“A while.” Josh smiles. “So. Those drugs you’re on. Good stuff, huh?”

I moan. “Tell me I wasn’t drooling.”

“No drool. You look happy.”

“I am happy,” I say. Because. . . I am. My eyes dim.

“Isla,” he whispers. “It’s time to go.

I lift my head from the table. When did it get there?

“Kismet is closing.”

“What’s Kismet?”

“Fate,” he says.

“What?”

“The name of this café.”

“Oh. Okay.” I follow him outside and into the night. It’s still raining. The drops are fat and warm. I cover my head with my bare hands as Josh stuffs his sketchbook underneath his shirt. I catch a glimpse of his abdomen. Yummy. “Yummy tummy.”

He startles. “What?”

“Hmm?”

A smile plays in the corners of his lips. I want to kiss them, one kiss in each corner.

“Okay, Loopy.” He shakes his head. “Which way?”

“Which way to what?”

“To your place.”

“You’re coming over?” I’m delighted.

“I’m walking you home. It’s late. And it’s pouring.”

“Oh, that’s nice,” I say. “You’re nice.”

The traffic lights glow yellow on the wet asphalt. I point the way, and we run across Amsterdam Avenue. The rain pours harder. “Up there!” I say, and we duck underneath a city block covered in scaffolding. Weighty raindrops clang against the aluminum like a pinball machine.

“Isla, wait!”

But it’s too late.

Scaffolding is generally ideal for escaping bad weather, but occasionally the bars will cross together to create a funnel, which can collect water and soak a person completely. I am soaked. Completely. My hair clings to my face, my sundress clings to my figure, and water squishes between my sandals and the soles of my feet.

“Ha-ha.” I’m not sure it’s real laughter.

“Are you okay?” Josh stoops under the scaffolding, swerves around the waterfall, and then stoops back in beside me.

I am laughing. I clutch my stomach. “Hurts. . . mouth. . . to laugh. My mouth. My mouth and my stomach. And my mouth.”

He laughs, too, but it’s distracted. His eyes suddenly, pointedly move up to my face, and I realize he’d been looking elsewhere. My smile widens. Thank you, slutty funnel.

Josh shifts away, his posture uncomfortable. “Almost there, yeah?”

I gesture toward a row of gabled buildings across the street. “The second one. With the copper-green windows and the tiled roof.”

“I’ve sketched those before.” His eyes widen, impressed. “They’re gorgeous.”

My parents’ apartment is located in a line of Flemish-inspired homes built in the late nineteenth century. We live in one of the only neighborhoods that’s nice enough for residents to have flowers on their stoops, and passersby won’t destroy them.

“Maman likes them, too. She likes pretty things. She’s French. That’s why I go to our school.” My voice drifts as Josh guides me toward the entrance with the climbing pink roses above the door. Home. He removes his hand from the small of my back, and it’s only then that I realize it was there in the first place.

“Merci,” I say.

“You’re welcome.”

“Thanks,” I say.

“De rien.”

The air is heavy with the perfume of rain-dripped roses. I fumble my way inside the building, and he waits on the sidewalk, statuesque. His dark hair is as wet as mine now. A stream of water cascades down his nose. One arm clutches the sketchbook against his chest, underneath his T-shirt.

“Thank you,” I say again.

He raises his voice so that I can hear him through the glass door. “Get some rest, Loopy. Sweet dreams.”

“Sweet,” I echo. “Dream.”

chapter two

Ohmygod what the hell did I do last night?????????

chapter three

And the whole thing is a blur! And I don’t remember anything I said, or anything he said, and he must have walked me home because he knew I was so high that I’d get run over by a taxi.”

Kurt Donald Cobain Bacon keeps his eyes fixed upon my ceiling. “So Josh paid for your food.”

It takes a moment for this statement to register. My best friend and I are lying beside each other on top of my bed. One of my hands slowly reaches out of its own accord and twists the front of his shirt into a tight knot.

“Don’t do that.” His tone is brusque—as it often is—though not impolite.

I remove my hand, which travels straight to my swollen, throbbing, worse-than-yesterday gums. And then I emit a rather frightening moan.

“You said he woke you up, and then you left the café,” Kurt says. “That means he paid your bill.”

“I know. I know.” But I’m scrambling out of bed anyway. I grab my purse, dump it upside down, and shake it frantically.

“You won’t find it,” he says.

A well-loved paperback about a hiking disaster on Mount Everest thunks against my rug. Pens and lipsticks and quarters shower out and roll away. My wallet. An empty pack of tissues, a pair of sunglasses, a crumpled flyer for a new bagel store. Nothing. I shake it harder. Still nothing. I check my wallet even though I already know what I won’t find: a receipt from the café.

“Told you,” he says.

“I have to apologize for being such a lunatic. I have to pay him back.”

“Pay who back?” Hattie asks.

My head whips around to find my younger sister appraising me from the doorway. She’s leaning against the frame with crossed arms, but she still looks way too tall. Which she is. Not only did she surpass me in height last year, but she far exceeded me.

“I know what you did last night,” she says. “I know you snuck out.”

“I didn’t sneak out. I just left for a few hours.”

“But Maman and Dad don’t know.”

I don’t reply, and Hattie smiles. She’s as smug as a house cat. She won’t tell. With information this valuable, she’ll hold on to it until it’s useful. Hattie swipes my wallet from the floor and—staring me down, lording over me with her stupid growth spurt—drops it back into my purse. And then she’s gone.

I throw the purse at her vacated space and crawl into bed. I wrap both of my arms around one of Kurt’s. “You have to go with me,” I say. “To the café. Tonight.”

His eyebrows furrow into their familiar V shape. “You think Josh is a regular?”

“Maybe.” I have no reason to think this. I just want him to be a regular. “Please, I have to explain myself.”

His shoulders shrug against me. “Then I’ll find the Right Way.”

Kurt likes routine, and he always likes to know where he’s going ahead of time. He’s obsessed with mapping out the best route to get anywhere. . . even a café that’s only a few minutes away. He calls these routes the Right Way. The Right Way never involves mass transit, crowded intersections, or streets containing Abercrombie & Fitch–type stores that blast noxious music and/or cologne.

Cartography has fascinated him since he was six, when he discovered The Times Atlas of the World weighing down one of my older sister’s gluey craft projects. The book became an obsession, and Kurt pored over its pages for years, memorizing names and shapes and distances. When we were young, we’d lie on my floor and draw our own maps. Kurt would make these tidy, detailed, to-scale maps of our neighborhood while I’d create England-shaped islands with Old English–sounding names. They’d have dense woods and spidery rivers and snowcapped peaks, and I’d surround them with shark triangles and sea-monster arches. It drove Kurt crazy that I wouldn’t draw anything real.

I’ve known him forever. Our mothers are also best friends—and they’re both Frenchwomen living in New York—so he’s just. . . always been around. We went to the same schools in Manhattan, and now we attend the same high school in Paris. He’s thirteen months younger than me, so there was only one year when we were apart—when he was in eighth grade, and I was a freshman. Neither of us likes to think about that year.

I blow a lock of his scruffy blond hair from my face. “You don’t think. . . ”

“You’re gonna have to finish that sentence.”

“It’s just. . . Josh and I talked. I remember feeling happy. You don’t think it’s possible that last night was. . . not some embarrassing mishap, but. . . my way in?”

He frowns again. “Your way into what?”

Kurt isn’t good at filling in blanks. And even though he’s always known how I feel about Josh, I still hesitate before saying it aloud. This tiny, flickering hope. “A relationship. Kismet, you know?”

“Fate doesn’t exist.” He gives me a dismissive huff. “Catalog last night as another embarrassing mishap. It’s been a while since you’ve had one,” he adds.

“Almost a year.” I sigh. “Right on schedule.”

Josh and I have had exactly one meaningful interaction per year, none of which have left me looking desirable. When we were freshmen, Josh saw me reading Joann Sfar in the cafeteria. He was excited to find someone else interested in European comics, so he began asking me this rapid string of questions, but I was too overwhelmed to reply. I could only gape at him in silence. He gave me a weird look and then left.

When we were sophomores, our English teacher partnered us up for a fake newspaper article. I was so nervous that I couldn’t stop tapping my pen. And then it slipped from my grasp. And then it flew into his forehead.

When we were juniors, I caught him and his girlfriend making out in an elevator. It wasn’t even at school. It was inside BHV, this massive department store. I bumbled an unintelligible hello, let the doors close, and took the stairs.

“But,” I persist, “I have a reason to talk to him now. You don’t think there’s any chance that it might lead to something?”

“Since when is human behavior reasonable?”

“Come on.” I widen my eyes like an innocent doe. “Can’t you pretend with me? Even for a second?”

“I don’t see the point in pretending.”

“That was a joke,” I explain, because sometimes Kurt needs explanations.

He scowls at himself in frustration. “Noted.”

“I dunno.” I burrow against the side of his body. “It’s not logical, and I can’t explain it, but. . . I think Josh will be there tonight. I think we’ll see him.”

“Before you ask”—Kurt barges into my new dorm room in Paris, three months later, narrowly missing a run-in with an empty suitcase—“no. I didn’t see him.”

“I wasn’t going to ask.” Although I was.

My last ember of hope gutters. Over the summer, it faded and faded until it was barely visible at all. The ghost of a hope. Because Kurt was right, human behavior isn’t reasonable. Or predictable. Or even satisfying. Josh wasn’t there at midnight, nor was he there the next night. Nor the following day. I checked the café at all hours for two weeks, and my memories of happiness disintegrated as I was faced with reality: I didn’t hear any music. I didn’t feel any rain. I didn’t even see any Abe.

It was as if that night had never happened.

I looked for Josh online. I pulled his email address from last year’s school handbook, but when I tried to send a casual/friendly explanation/apology—an email that took four hours to compose—the server informed me that his account was inactive from disuse.

Then I tried the various social networks. I didn’t get far. I don’t actually have any accounts, because social networking has always felt like a popularity contest to me. A public record of my own inadequacies. The only thing I found was the same black-and-white, again and again, of Josh standing beside the River Seine, staring somberly at some fixed point in the distance. I confess I’d seen it before. He’d been using the picture online for months. But it was too pathetic to sign up anywhere just to become his so-called friend.

So then I did the thing that I swore to myself I would never do: I Googled his home address. The waves of my shame could be felt across state lines. But it was in this final step toward stalkerdom that I was led to the information I’d been seeking all along. His father’s website featured a photo of the family exiting an airport terminal in DC. The picture had been taken two days after Kismet, and the caption explained that they’d remain in the capital until autumn. The senator looked stately and content. Rebecca Wasserstein was waving toward the camera, flashing that toothy, political-spouse smile.

And their only child?

He trailed behind them, head down, sketchbook in arm. I clicked on the picture to make it bigger, and my eyes snagged on a blue sticker shaped like America.

I’m in there. I’m in that sketchbook.

I never saw his drawing. What would it have revealed about me? About him? I wondered if he ever looked at it. I wondered about it all summer long.

Kurt jiggles the handle of my new door, shaking me back into France. “This is catching. You need to get it fixed.”

“The more things change, the more they stay the same,” I say.

He frowns. “That doesn’t make sense. The door you had last year worked fine.”

“Never mind.” I sigh. Three months is a long time. Any confidence I had in speaking to Josh has crumbled back into shyness and fear. Even if Kurt had just seen him in the hallway, it’s not like I would’ve left my room to speak with him.

Kurt pushes his body weight against the door, listens for its telltale click, and then flops down beside me on the bed. “Our doors are supposed to lock automatically. I shouldn’t be able to walk in like that.”

“And yet—”

“I keep doing it.” He grins.

“It’s strange, though, right?” My voice is tinged with the same awe that it’s had since our arrival two days ago. “Whose door that used to be?”

“Statistically unlikely. But not impossible.”

I have a lifetime’s worth of experience shaking off Kurt’s wonder-killing abilities, so his response doesn’t bother me. Especially because, despite a summer of disappointments and backtracking . . .

I, Isla Martin, am now living in Joshua Wasserstein’s last place of residence.

These were his walls. This was his ceiling. That black grease mark on the baseboards, the one right above the electrical outlet? He probably made that. For the rest of the year, I will have the same view of the same street outside of the same window. I will sit in his chair, bathe in his shower, and sleep in his bed.

His bed.

I trace a finger along the stitching of my quilt. It’s an embroid-ered map of Manhattan. When I’m in Manhattan, I sleep underneath a quilt that’s an embroidered map of Paris. But underneath this blanket and underneath these sheets, there’s a sacred space that once belonged to Josh. He dreamed here. I want this to mean something.

My door bursts back open.

“My room is bigger than yours,” Hattie says. “This is like a prison cell.”

Yeah. I’m gonna have to fix that door.

“True,” Kurt says, because the rooms in Résidence Lambert are the size of walk-in closets. “But how many roommates were you assigned? Two? Three?”

This is my sister’s first year attending SOAP—the School of America in Paris. When I was a freshman, our older sister, Gen, was a senior. Now I’m the senior, and Hattie is the freshman. She’ll be living in the underclass dormitory down the street. Students in Grivois have roommates, tons of supervision, and enforced curfews. Here in Lambert, we have our own rooms, one Résidence Director, and significantly more freedom.

Hattie glowers at Kurt. “At least I don’t have to hide from my roommates.”

“Don’t be an assrabbit,” he says.

Last year—when I was in this dorm, and he was still in Grivois—he slept in my bed more often than his own, because he couldn’t get along with his roommates. But I didn’t mind. We’ve been sharing beds since before we could talk. And Kurt and I are strictly friends. There’s none of that he’s-my-best-friend-but-we’re-secretly-in-love bullshit. A relationship with him would feel incestuous.

Hattie narrows her eyes. “Everyone’s waiting in the lobby for dinner.” She’s referring to both his parents and ours. “Hurry up.” She slams my door. It pops back open, but she’s already gone.

I haul myself off the bed. “I wish my parents could’ve sent her to boarding school in Belgium. They speak French there, too.”

Kurt sits up. “That’s a joke, right?”

It is. It’s important to my parents that my sisters and I receive a portion of our education in France. We’re dual citizens. We all received our early schooling in the United States, and we’ve all been sent here for high school. It’s our choice where to go next. Gen chose Smith College in Massachusetts. I’m not sure where I want to live, but soon I’ll be applying to both la Sorbonne here in Paris and Columbia back in New York.

Kurt pulls up the hood of his favorite charcoal-gray sweatshirt, even though it’s warm outside. I grab my room key, and we leave. It takes both of his hands to yank my door closed. “You really do need to talk to Nate about that.” He nods to our Résidence Director’s apartment, only two doors down.

Okay. So Josh’s old room does have its drawbacks. It’s also located on the ground floor so it’s loud. Extra loud, actually, because it’s also-also located beside the stairwell.

“There he is,” Kurt says.

I assume he means Nate, but I follow his gaze and grind to a halt.

Him.

Josh is waiting for the elevator in the lobby. In less than a second, an entire summer of daydreaming and planning and rehearsing explodes into nothingness. I close my eyes to steady myself. I’m dizzy. It physically hurts to look at him. “I can’t breathe.”

“Of course you can breathe,” Kurt says. “You’re breathing right now.”

Josh looks alone.

I mean, he is alone, but. . . he looks alone. He’s carrying a cloth grocery bag and staring at the elevator, completely detached from the crowd behind him. Kurt drags me toward the lobby. The elevator dings, the door opens, and Josh pushes back its old-fashioned gate. Students and parents bustle in behind him—way too many people for such a small space—and as we pass by, he flinches at being shoved into a corner. But the flinch is just that, one quick moment, before his expression slides back into indifference.

The crowd jostles and smashes buttons and someone’s dad forces the gate shut, but that’s when an odd thing happens. Josh looks out over the sea of passengers and through the metal cage. And his eyes go from blank to seeing. They see me.

The elevator door closes.

chapter four

The head of school is finishing up her usual first-day, post-breakfast, welcome-back speech. Kurt and I are in the back of the courtyard, nestled between two trees pruned like giant lollipops. The air smells faintly of iron. The school looms over us, all gray stone and cascading vines and heavy doors. Our classmates loom before us.

There are twenty-five students per grade here—always one hundred students total—and it’s difficult to get accepted. You have to have excellent grades, high test scores, and several letters of recommendation. It helps to have connections. Gen got in because Maman knew someone in the administration, I got in because of Gen, and Hattie got in because of me. It’s cliquey like that.

It’s also expensive. You have to come from money to attend.

When my father was only nineteen, he built an overdrive pedal for guitarists called the Cherry Bomb. It was red and revolutionary and turned him from the son of a Nebraskan farmer into a very wealthy man. It’s one of the most copied pedals ever, but musicians still pay top dollar for the original. His company’s name is Martintone, and even though he still tinkers with pedals, as an adult he works mainly as a studio engineer.

“I have one final announcement.” The head’s voice is as poised as her snow-white chignon. She’s American, but she could easily pass for French.

Kurt studies a map on his phone. “I’ve found a better route to the Treehouse.”

“Oh, yeah? After all this time?” I’m scanning the courtyard for Josh. Either he slept in or he’s already skipping. I planned my outfit carefully, because it’s the first day in months when I know I’ll see him. My style tends to be rather feminine, and today I’m wearing a dress patterned with tiny Swiss dots. It has a scoop neck and a short hem, both of which help me look taller, but I’ve added a pair of edgy Parisian heels to keep me from looking too innocent or vanilla. I can’t imagine Josh falling for someone vanilla.

Not that Josh would ever fall for me.

But I wouldn’t want to ruin any chance.

Even though I don’t have a chance.

But just in case I do.

Even though I don’t.

“But I’ll let him tell you in his own words,” the head says, continuing a sentence whose beginning I did not hear. She moves aside, and a short figure with a shaved head steps forward. It’s Nate, our Résidence Director. This is his third year here. He’s also American, but he’s young, working on his doctorate, and known for being lax with the rules yet firm enough to keep us under control. The kind of person that everybody likes.

“Hey, guys.” Nate shifts as if his own skin were the wrong fit. “It’s come to the faculty’s attention—” He glances at the head of school and changes his story. “It’s come to my attention that the situation in Lambert got a little out of hand last year. I am, of course, referring to the habit of opposite-sex students hanging out in each other’s rooms. As you know, we have a strict policy—”

The student body snickers.

“We have a strict policy that ladies and gentlemen are only allowed to visit each other with their doors propped open.”

“Isla.” Kurt is annoyed. “You’re not looking at my phone.”

I shake my head and nudge him to pay attention. This can’t be good.

“Things will be different this year, upperclassmen. To remind you of the rules—” Nate rubs his head and waits for the gossip to stop. “One. If a member of the opposite sex is in your room, your door must be open. Two. Members of the opposite sex must be gone from your room by nightfall according to the weekday and weekend hours listed in your official school handbook. This means that, three, there will be no spending the night. Are we clear? The consequences to breaking these rules are big, you guys. Detention. Suspension. Expulsion.”

“So, what, you’ll be doing random room checks?” a senior named Mike shouts.

“Yes,” Nate says.

“That’s unconstitutional!” Mike’s sidekick Dave shouts.

“Then it’s a good thing we’re in France.” Nate steps back into the gathered faculty and shoves his hands into his pockets. He’s clearly aggravated by this new hassle in his life. The crowd breaks as abruptly as his announcement, and everyone is griping as we make our way toward first period.

“Maybe it won’t apply to us,” I say, hoping to convince myself. “Nate knows we’re just friends. And shouldn’t there be exemptions for friends who are in no way interested in each other’s bodies?”

Kurt’s mouth grows small and tight. “He didn’t say anything about exemptions.”

Because of our grade difference, our only period together is lunch. I head toward senior English alone and take my usual seat beside the leaded-glass windows. The classroom looks the same—dark wooden trim, empty whiteboards, chairs-attached-to-desks—though it still carries that feeling of summer emptiness.

Where is Josh?

Professeur Cole arrives as she always does, just as the bell is ringing. We have the same professeurs for each subject every year. She’s loud for a teacher, friendly and approachable. “Bonjour à tous.” Professeur Cole smacks down her coffee cup on the podium and looks around. “Good. No new students, no need for an introduction. Ah, pardon.” She pauses. “One empty desk. Who’s missing?”

The door creaks open with her answer.

“Monsieur Wasserstein. Of course the empty desk is yours.” But she winks as he slips into the remaining desk beside the door.

Josh looks tired, but. . . even tired looks good on him. He’s wearing a dark blue T-shirt with artwork that I don’t recognize, no doubt something obscure from the indie comic world. It fits him well—a bit tightly—and when he reaches for a copy of the syllabus, his sleeve creeps up to reveal the tattoo on his upper right arm.

I love his tattoo.

It’s a skull and crossbones, but it’s whimsical and simple and clean. Clearly his own design. He got it our sophomore year, despite the fact that minors in France are required to have parental approval. Which I seriously doubt he had. Which, I’m somewhat ashamed to admit, makes it even sexier. My heart pounds feverishly in my ears. I glance around the room, but the other girls appear to be at ease. Why doesn’t he have the same effect on them that he has on me? Don’t they see him?

Professeur Cole makes us push our desks into a circle. She’s the only teacher here who forces us to look at one another during class. I take my seat again, and—suddenly—Josh’s desk is opposite my own.

My head jerks down. My hair shields my face.I’ll never be able to talk to him about that night in New York.

Halfway through class, the guy beside him asks a question. The temptation is too strong, so I steal the opportunity for another glance. Josh immediately looks up. Our eyes meet, and my cheeks burst into flames. I avert my gaze for the remainder of the hour, but his presence grows larger and larger. I can practically feel it pressing up against me.

Despite the fact that our schedule is, thus far, identical—English, calculus, government—I manage to evade him for the rest of the morning. It helps that he’s skilled at both disappearing between classes and arriving late to them. Even when the next class is literally across the hall. When the bell rings for lunch, it’s comforting to resume Kurt’s company. We take the back staircase, the one less traveled. It’s the Right Way.

“Did you speak to him?” he asks.

My sigh is long and forlorn. “No.”

“Yeah. That sounds like you.”

Kurt launches into something about a freshman in his computer programming class, a girl who is tall and serene and already fluent in several internet languages—totally his type—but I’m only half paying attention. I know it’s dumb. I know there are more important things to think about on a first day back to school, including whatever it is my best friend is saying. But I like Josh so much that I actually feel miserable.

He has yet to make an appearance in the cafeteria, and it’s doubtful that he will now, because I saw him weaving through the crowd in the opposite direction. His friends graduated last year. All of them. If only I were courageous enough to invite him to sit with us at our table, but his friends were so much cooler than us.

Besides, Josh is aloof. Untouchable. We are not.

In the lunch line, Mike Reynard—the senior who was the first to shout during Nate’s speech—proves my point when he slams his tray into Kurt’s spine. A bowl of onion soup splashes its entire contents onto the back of his hoodie.

Mike pretends to look disgusted. “Watch it, retard.”

Kurt stares straight ahead in shock. A slice of baguette covered in melted Gruyère falls from his back to the floor with a splat. A soggy onion noiselessly follows.

My cheeks redden. “Jerk.”

“Sorry, didn’t catch that,” Mike says. Even though he did. He’s making fun of my soft voice.

I raise it so that he can hear me. “I said you’re an asshole.”

He smiles, an orthodontic row of unnaturally sharp teeth. “Yeah? And what are you gonna do about it, sweetheart?”

I clench the compass on the end of my necklace. Nothing. I am going to do nothing, and he knows it. Kurt shoves his hands into his hoodie’s pockets, which begin to shake. I know his hands are flapping. He makes a low sound, and I link my arm through his and lead him away, abandoning our food trays. Pretending like I don’t see Mike’s and Dave’s pantomimes or hear their cretinous guffaws.

In the quiet of the hall, Kurt races into the men’s room. I sit on a bench and listen to the tick of a gilded clock. Count the number of pear-shaped crystals on the chandeliers. Tap my heels against the marble floor. Our school is as grand and ostentatious as anything in Paris, but I wish it weren’t filled with such horrible, entitled weasels. And I know I’m just as privileged, but. . . it feels different when you live on the social ladder’s bottom rung.

Kurt reappears. His hoodie is balled in his arms, wet from scrubbing.

“Everything okay?” I ask.

He’s calm, but he’s still frowning with severe agitation. “Now I can’t wear it until it’s clean.”

“No worries.” I help him shove it into his bag. “First thing after school.”

The lunch line is empty. “I had ze feeling you would return.” The jolly, potbellied head chef removes our trays from behind the counter and slides them toward us. “Leek tart for mademoiselle, un croque-monsieur for monsieur.

I’m grateful for this gesture of kindness. “Merci, Monsieur Boutin.”

“Zat boy iz no good.” He means Mike. “You do not worry about him.”

His concern is simultaneously embarrassing and reassuring. He swipes our meal cards, and then Kurt and I sit at our usual table in the far corner. I glance around. As predicted, Josh isn’t here, which is probably a good thing. But Hattie isn’t here either. Which is probably not.

This morning I saw her eating un mille-feuille and—even though I don’t blame her for wanting to start the day with dessert—I tried to stop her. I thought it might be dusted with powdered almonds, and she’s allergic to nuts. But my sister always does the opposite of whatever anyone wants her to do, even when it’s completely idiotic and potentially life threatening. We’re not supposed to have our phones out at school, so I sneak text her: ARE YOU ALIVE?!

She doesn’t reply.

The day worsens. In physics, Professeur Wakefield pairs us alphabetically to our lab partner for the year. I get Emily Middlestone, who groans when it’s announced, because she is popular, and I am not. Sophie Vernet is paired with Josh.

I hate Sophie Vernet.

Actually, I’ve never given Sophie Vernet much thought, and she seems nice enough, but that’s the problem.

My last two classes are electives. I’d like to say that I’m taking art history for my own betterment—not so that I’ll have more to hypothetically converse about with Josh—but that would be false. And I’m taking computer science, because it’ll look better on my transcripts than La Vie, the class that I wish I could take. La Vie means “life,” and it’s supposed to teach us basic life skills, but it’s better known as the school’s only goof-off class. I have zero doubt it’s where Josh is currently located.

Professeur Fontaine, the computer science teacher, pauses by my desk while she’s handing out our first homework assignment. Her chin is pointy, and her forehead is huge. She looks like a triangle. “I met your sister this morning.”

I didn’t even know Professeur Fontaine knew me. This school is way too small. I try to keep my voice nonchalant. “Oh, yeah?” When the sister in question is Hattie, whatever follows this statement is generally unpleasant.

“She was in the nurse’s office. Very ill.”

Hattie! I told you so.

Professeur Fontaine assures me that my sister isn’t dying, but she refuses to let me see for myself. When the final bell rings, I shoot a see-you-later text to Kurt, hurry toward the administration wing, push through its extravagantly carved wooden door, and—

My heart seizes.

Josh is slumped on the waiting room couch. His legs are stretched out so far and so low that they’re actually underneath the coffee table. His arms are crossed, but his eyebrows rise—perhaps involuntarily, for someone sitting with such purposeful displeasure—at the sight of me.

My response is another deep, flaming blush. Why can’t I have a normal face? Genetics are so unfair. I hasten toward the desk and ask the receptionist in French about Hattie. Without glancing up, she waves me toward the couch. A bracelet with a monogrammed charm jingles daintily from her wrist.

I can’t move. My stomach is in knots.

“Wait there,” she says, as if I didn’t understand her gesture. Another wave and another jingle.

Move, feet. Come on. Move!

She finally looks at me, more annoyed than concerned. My feet detach, and I plant one in front of the other like a windup doll until I’m sitting on the other side of the couch. The small couch. Love seat, really.

Josh is no longer in full recline. He sat up while my back was turned, and now he’s leaning forward with his elbows propped against his knees. He’s staring straight ahead at an oil painting of a haloed Jeanne d’Arc.

It is now officially more awkward to ignore him than to acknowledge his presence. I search for an opener—something elementary—but my throat remains thick and closed. His silence is a confirmation of my fears. That I was a mess in the café, that his help was given in pity, that he wouldn’t actively choose to interact with me and never will again—

Josh clears his throat.

It seems like a good sign. Good. “Good first day?” I ask.

A funny expression crosses his face. Was that a dumb question? Did it make me sound like his mother? Hattie is always accusing me of sounding like Maman.

“I’ve had better.” He nods toward the head of school’s office door.

“Oh.” But then I get it. “Oh! Sorry. I’m here for the nurse, so. . . I assumed...”

“It’s okay.” And he says it like it is.

I wonder why he was called to her office. Because he skipped her welcome-back speech? Because he was tardy to his classes? It seems harsh to punish him for these things on our first day. And, great, now we’ve been silent for at least twenty seconds.

Tell him. Tell him. Just tell him already!

“Listen,” I blurt. “I’m really embarrassed about last June. I was taking a lot of medication, and I don’t remember much about that night, but I’m pretty sure you paid for my meal so I’d like to pay you back. And I’m sorry. For being weird. And thank you for walking me home. And for paying for my food.”

He waits until I’m done. “It’s okay,” he says again.

And I feel stupid.

But Josh frowns as if he feels stupid, too. He scratches his head, somehow managing to muss his close-cropped hair. “I mean. . . don’t worry about it. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. And you don’t need to pay me back, it was only a few bucks.”

This is the moment. Right here. This is the moment to place a hand on his arm, lean in, and say the least I can do is treat him to a meal in return. Instead, I just think it.

“Are you okay?” Josh asks. And then he makes another face.

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From the Publisher
A New York Times bestseller!

"Stephanie Perkins is the Jane Austen of our generation. Her stories ache, soothe, and leave you breathless with joy; there's true magic in these pages — it's an experience you won't soon forget." —Tehereh Mafi, author of the bestselling Shatter Me series.

"Fans of literary heart flutters will love it." —Booklist

"Realistic characters, spot-on dialogue, and a truly delightful romance make for a novel that will delight the author’s fans and win her legions of new ones.” —School Library Journal, starred review

"Engaging teen characters with page-turning love lives offer ample vicarious pleasures. A satisfying dose of first love’s physical and emotional thrall." —Kirkus Reviews

“Dazzling and full of raw emotion...With a smooth plot, colorful characters and witty dialogue, Perkins further establishes herself as an expert writer whose career is sure to be long and full of bright things.” —RT Book Reviews, Top Pick

Praise for Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door:

"Perkins’s debut surpasses the usual chick-lit fare with smart dialogue, fresh characters and plenty of tingly interactions." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Absorbing and enjoyable." —Booklist

"Very sly. Very funny. Very romantic. You should date this book." —Maureen Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of 13 Little Blue Envelopes and The Name of the Star

“A swoonworthy romance [with] a cast of unforgettable characters . . . Lola and the Boy Next Door is another unputdownable read.” —MTV.com

"Smart and sensual, Anna and the French Kiss is everything your heart is longing for. You'll want to live inside this story forever. More, s'il vous plait!" —Lisa McMann, New York Times bestselling author of the Wake Trilogy

"You're going to fall in love with Lola and the Boy Next Door. Madly in love! Every page sparkles." —Sarah Mylnowski, author of Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn't Have) and the Whatever After series

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Meet the Author

Stephanie Perkins (www.stephanieperkins.com) has always worked with books—first as a bookseller, then as a librarian, and now as a novelist. Stephanie lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her husband. Every room of their house is painted a different color of the rainbow.

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Isla and the Happily Ever After 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Melissa_Robles More than 1 year ago
Aaaah, I can't take my heart right now. It's so FULL of good feelings that it practically hurts. It's just that this book is SO FREAKING BEAUTIFUL. I'm sooooooo in love! I feel like crying. I feel like dancing. I feel like I haven't really been living until now. Feels, feels, FEELS, people! Isla and the Happily Ever After is THE book. Stephanie Perkins is hands down the best YA Contemporary writer ever. She makes you laugh, she makes your heart melt and she makes you suffer in the most precious way.  Isla (eye-la) is a whole different experience from my other two Stephanie favorites, Anna and the French Kiss, and Lola and the Boy Next Door. This book is more mature, more intense, yet equally sweet and stunning. The romance swooned me off my feet and the special guests made my heart explode in happiness. Clearly I just want to gush and hug this book all day long. I'm actually itching to read it again now (and I will after my sister gets her scoop of awesomeness).  It's so thrilling to be back now at the city of love with Isla and Josh. They are both so adorably cute together. Isla with her shy yet fiery persona, and Josh with his talent and ability to say and draw the most beautiful scenarios. I'm so glad this book doesn't let me wait that long for both to get together, unlike Anna and Lola (although I do love the anticipation). The attraction between Isla and Josh was so palpable and so right, it would have been unreal if they didn't fall for each other soon. However, they do have to deal with so many insecurities and things that are simply out of their hands, thus ensuing a big heart-wrenching rollercoaster ride. But the best part *clutches heart* THE ENDING. The last chapters were so perfect and magical that I think my heart stopped from too much beauty. Now I want to cry again because Isla & Josh, Anna & Étienne, and Lola & Cricket always make me want to find love just like theirs. At least for a day, I'll take anything. Seriously, you have to read this book like, now. If you haven't started the series, don't worry, you don't have to start with book one as they can work pretty well as stand-alones, but trust me, it works better when read in order.  On a side note... I'm sad that this series has come to an end because it's not only the last about Isla, but Anna and Lola as well. It definitely hurts to know there won't be more. However, I'm glad the characters got their happily ever afters.  If I had to pick a favorite out of the three books, Isla would come out at the bottom but not by much. It fairly stays in the same order because: Anna and the French Kiss is this sweet story about being afraid of choosing what you want and making big changes in life. Of giving the chance to something you would never have considered before. It's a great book that builds up something huge, the anticipation pure torture, but extremely satisfying. It's the kind of book that makes you want to jump in and live inside forever. Not to mention my boyfriend, Étienne, who is the ultimate bookboyfriend of all times. Lola and the Boy Next Door is all about identity and misunderstandings. Of speaking out loud and learning from mistakes, of forgiving. If Anna was sweet, then this one was bowls and bowls of bright colored candies and pies. Again, the anticipation for a great ending is terrible, but SO worth it. An extremely bright book with a bright guy. Cricket is the boy I would love to spend every minute of every day for the rest of my life. And Isla and the Happily Ever After is the story about finding yourself AND believing in yourself. In what you can do, how much you are worth and how beautiful and interesting you can be even when you don't have your life all planned out. Like Josh says, it's okay to be a blank canvas because they are the ones full of possibilities, and artists are inspired by them. Terrificly raw, this book gives you another love story with a stunning guy you cannot live without. So even though Josh is not my Étienne, and certainly not my Cricket (yes, the hard decision comes down to the boys), he is MY Josh and I wouldn't change him one bit. I have love for everyone, you see. Now, THE END. *whew, I know.*(less)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can I just say that Stephanie Perkins closed the series perfectly. Josh and Islas relationship was so true and real. I loved every minute of it. I felt their pain and their love. Even though I always want more at the end I have to say that Perkins always has the best endings that makes you feel all tingly inside. The author captures love so well that I hope I have something like her characters in years to come, sincere, true love . It was truely brilliant.
EverAfterEsther More than 1 year ago
Isla is Stephanie Perkin's third book that proves her to be a master of not only romance, but storytelling. I was first introduced (and convinced) to read her first book, Anna and the French Kiss, when I began blogging three years ago (in 2011!) and I've been a devoted fan ever since then! I was looking forward to Isla because although she only had a small role to play in Anna, I knew this last book in this collection was going to be incredible. Reasons to Read: 1. Books with a feeling of nostalgia: Very few books leave me with such a strong nostalgic feeling. But Stephanie has this way of writing that makes her readers intensely feel the same emotional roller coaster as her characters. Her books perfectly capture many of the feelings and experiences I had as a teenager, and I love that. I found it was particularly strong in Isla because Isla's awkward moments and intense relationship with Josh were so familiar to me. 2. Romantic longing: One of my favourite feelings in the world is that period when you first realize you have a crush on someone... and then it starts to move in the right direction! It is this crazy, wild adrenaline rush and that is exactly what Isla (and Josh) experience in this book. Isla has pined for Josh for years, and we get to read about how she first approaches Josh and their friendship develops from there. But it's that rising anticipation throughout the book that kept me hooked! 3. Revisit some of our other favourite Perkins' couples: I love how Stephanie includes little cameos of characters she's written about in previous books. It's so fun to get to see glimpses of how their lives turned out, and I think that this is especially true in Isla and the Happily Ever After. Because this book is the end of this three-book collection, it seems like so much more than just the potential of a "happily ever after" for Isla - it's as if it's the happily ever after for Anna, Lola, and even for us as readers.  I can't sing the praises of this book enough. Isla and Josh are adorable. They're also flawed, and kind of stupid at times. Which is fine, because I've done silly things as well. I truly wish I could crawl inside the pages of this book and live in Paris with Anna and Isla and do my makeup and get dressed up with Lola. Because we would be best friends, even if they are fictional.  Hardcover purchased. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book was absolutely amazing i didnt want it to end, once i bought it i couldnt put it down, i cried at the ending, you deffinatly grow and learn reading this journey. i bought this on sunday and finished on tuesday. its amazing like the rest of her work, i reccomend going to the store and picking up at copy right away before there all gone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved anna and the french kiss so much much i read it like 30 times in a row i wish there was another book all about anna and st. Clair they are such a beautiful couple. Cricket and lola are such an interesting duo i cant wait to read isla and josh wow im so excited :)
Anonymous 3 months ago
This is now my favorite book ever. EVER. If you love the feeling of falling in love, this book - this whole series - is DEFINITELY for you. AMAZING book!!!!
BoundWithWords 3 months ago
Isla was incredible easy to like and definitely the heroine of this series (of sorts) that I most had things in comum, she had so much of me on her. Her only having one close friend, of not opening up for other people, her insecurities, her way of self defense with her insecurities, her love for her family, being divided between two nations and not knowing where she belonged and what she wanted to do with life when everyone around her had plans, yeah I got her. So it was incredible easy to feel into her mind and understand what she was feeling, even when she made stupid decisions I couldn't be angry at her because I knew what was motivating her to act like that, I liked that she does evolve on a lot of her insecurities by the end of the book even if I do think it was rushed - like her college decision, which okay the right answer was building inside of her, but it only needs a talk with some ex-friend and boom, decision totally made no other doubts about it. I think this, and other things, like her insecurities could have been better build along the book. Josh was kind of a difficult character for me, because at times he seemed a lot of bullshit for me but at other times I would see myself crying over something he passed through. The bullshit part comes because of his privileged life and how he wants to blow everything up, it just... I get it, but I can't sympathize with him at the same time, he doesn't have a good enough reason for being so artsy-messed-up kind of character. But I also understand his feelings of loneliness, that first reaction after seeing that he did a wrong choice is fuck everything and turns thing even harder for him, so yeah it was a hard character for me because what I liked is what I didn't liked about him, at the same time #it'scomplicated. On the romance of these two, well it was a hell of a instalove but one that I totally approve, basically because they started as one of those sugar-extra-sweet sorta of couple with an incredible chemistry and all their interactions were so sweet and it was so obvious that both of them had fallen hard for each other since their first real conversation and them in the middle SHIT HITS THE FAN jk, kinda of. *Things* happen and they start to have trouble in paradise - despite I liking their development as a couple, this was also my least favorite part of the book, basically it was hard to not be pissed with them because these *things* could have been 100% avoided and all the drama that it brought to the book wasn't my favorite - so it was nice to see they work through it and find their happily ever after
Anonymous 6 months ago
I wasn't as big a fan of the relationship trajectory in this story, but I appreciated that Isla and Josh's love story was portrayed in more typically teenage terms. They were still figuring themselves out while they were falling for each other, which made even their more immature moments seem achingly realistic. A sweet end to a sweet series.
Amber_Elise 8 months ago
The ending to a beloved series couldn't end any sweeter! I was sad to have to close this book. Plot: Isla and the Happily Ever After filled me with such giddy feelings as well as heartache. When I first read the synopsis, I thought their "chance encounter" was code for "hook up" - it's not. Isla and Josh's love story is innocent, albeit a bit rushed. The "meat" of the story takes place little over two months - filled with teenage angst, infatuation, and too-soon "I love yous." Regardless of the pacing, I fell in love with Isla and Josh's timeline. Characters: I adored Isla because I saw a little bit (a lot) of me in her character. She's quiet, an overachiever, and has terribly low self esteem, while Josh is her complete opposite. I didn't like Josh in the beginning, because I found him to be undeserving, but like all Perkins characters, I grew to understand him. The synopsis boasts cameos from previous couples and characters, and while it was nice to see them, I felt that their presence took away from Isla and Josh. Anna and St. Clair cameos worked better in Lola and the Boy Next Door because they were imbedded in the storyline, here they are written in the storyline just to show how cute they are. World Building: I went into this book thinking that I was going to be treated to the same Paris that took my breath away in Anna and the French Kiss. Unfortunately, we don't get nearly as much France, or SOAP for that matter. Perkins still has a way with words that transports you to a new world, which is why I will devour anything that Stephanie Perkins writes. Short N Sweet: Isla and the Happily Ever After is a great ending to this lovely companion series. I just wish that I could stop comparing it to Anna and the French Kiss!
KristiHulsey More than 1 year ago
http://hulsey2007bookblog.blogspot.com/ With this particular story I was thinking 4 or 4.5 stars. Until the ending the ending blew me away. I was just a pile of mush by the end. My favorite was Anna and the French Kiss. Until the ending. I love them all. But the ending was just OMG so sweet and so many emotions go through you while read it. Anna and Lola are both amazing books. All 3 books have their own personality. But I can see why some people say Isla is there favorite. Because the ending is my favorite out of the 3 books. But Anna is just my favorite for overall books. I love how the ending of this particular book wraps around all 3 books. It gives a great ending for the 3 people in this book. I just loved that. I love Isla and Josh together. I didnt think about Rashmi being with Josh in the first book. It didnt really cross my mind so I may reread that story. Just to see what they were like together. Isla and Josh really work well together in my mind. I love all their intense moments from their first kiss. To their more intimate moments. Their first kiss was about 100 pages in and I love the way their kiss played out while they were playing with each. The whole "if you were my girl" that whole scenario it was just so funny to read until the kissing moment. I loved it. Then they go into the flirty kisses where they both fall in love with each other. I love how the author took a whole chapter for the I love you part. I loved this authors writing style. These 2 characters in my mind had some intense chemistry and some emotional scenes together. Above it all I loved it. The ending is definately my favorite. I cannot wait to read what else Stephanie Perkins has. I will definately be reading more of this author.
ReesesSH More than 1 year ago
It’s finally here! The last book in the series of romantic awesome. Isla has been in love with Josh from her first semester. She’s the middle child and living far away from home in Paris. Isla is the perfect honor roll student who has never broken the rules. I wish I would have liked Isla. I did enjoy much like in all of Stephanie Perkins books that the characters are realistic with flaws and real personalities.  Isla was insecure and scared about who she was throughout the story and tries to overcome that which I love since I love characters that grow. Josh has uncaring controlling political parents. Everyone expects nothing from him and so he gives everyone nothing. He skips school and just tries to enjoy as much life as possible. He travels all over the world and draws, creating a comic book of his life. Isla and Josh were an interesting couple. Both of them are insecure and have issues, but they’re cute together. They traveled together and became better characters for it. They both encounter issues, but it becomes obvious they’re better off together. All of our amazing characters from past books made their way into this book which made this story all the better. I honestly wanted to like this story but I felt it really fell short after comparing it to the rest of the series. Isla’s character wasn’t as great nor was this story as compared, which was disappointing.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Isla Martin has had a hopeless, all-consuming crush on Josh Wassertein since their first year at the School of America in Paris. After years of pining, Isla has grown used to watching Josh from afar. Then one magical, painkiller-fueled, chance encounter in New York the summer before their senior year changes everything. After years of bad timing and missed connections, Josh and Isla are finally together. But with false-starts and near-misses aplenty, neither of them is sure this relationship is meant to last. Isla doesn't understand how someone like Josh can ever feel as deeply for her as she does for him. Neither is sure how to deal with the growing pains and doubts that stem from their new, intense relationship. With uncertain plans for college and the future looming, Josh and Isla will have to learn to be apart before they have any chance of staying together in Isla and the Happily Ever After (2014) by Stephanie Perkins. Isla and the Happily Ever After is the highly anticipated conclusion to Perkins' loose trilogy that began with Anna and the French Kiss and continued with Lola and the Boy Next Door. These books function as perfect companions to each other but Isla's story is very much her own and functions as a standalone. Readers who have followed these books from the start, however, will be pleased with cameos from all the obvious suspects toward the end of the novel. While much of the story focuses on Isla and Josh's fledgling relationship, Perkins also artfully explores changing friendships as well as the complexities relationships with sisters. Kurt, Isla's best friend, is an especially wonderful addition to the story. Isla's panic at facing her future both in terms of college and life beyond is authentic and well-handled throughout the story. Although Josh and Isla are perfect together, Isla's growth is happily a solo endeavor as she is forced to acknowledge her flaws as well as her strengths and wants. Isla (and Josh) are often foolish and make mistakes but they also both learn and begin to thrive because of them. Perkins is a master when it comes to writing clever, swoony romances. Josh and Isla are perfect counterpoints to each other in this story about first love and growing up. Isla and the Happily Ever After is an apt conclusion for these characters and a perfect romance for anyone looking for a smile. Possible Pairings: Girl Overboard by Justina Chen, Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley, When It Happens by Susane Colasanti, Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg, King of the Screwups by K. L. Going, To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han, Alice, I Think by Susan Juby, The Piper's Son by Melina Marhcetta, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
ApollosSunshine More than 1 year ago
I ABSOLUTELY ADORED THE BOOK!  In the beginning, I must admit, I was skeptical. I did not think it would meet my expectations it seemed a bit typical and superficial, but as the story progressed i was able to see that those were the exact intentions of the author. The ending was beautiful and deep. I simply and absolutely loved this story. It met every single one of my expectations. Fell in love with every word of this book!!!! Definitely a must read (preferably after reading Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love it. I love the story, I love all of Stephanie Perkins books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The romance starts on page one. Cute story, great conclusion to the series. Loved the parts with Anna and St. Claire...perfect! Loved Josh and Isla's story...you'll need tissues at one point. Thank you Stephanie Perkins for a happily ever after. I recommend this book. S.A.K.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings The third in the companion series that takes the reader back to Paris and to the American school with a new group of seniors.  Isla is the middle daughter of a French/American couple who definitely shows the middle child tendencies.  Josh is the child of a state senator and doesn't quite fit the normal mold of a political offspring.  Isla has had a crush on Josh since day one and now in their senior year she may get the guts to make her feelings known. What a fantastically sweet and realistic love story.  I absolutely stinkin adore the realistic ups and downs of a senior year of high school relationship.  The puppy love was great.  Although it took awhile it was great to have the appearance of the whole crowd - St. Clair, Anna, Cricket and Lola - but what a great appearance!  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing
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WishEnd More than 1 year ago
3.5 Stars I got pulled into this series when I picked up the first book, Anna & the French Kiss, last year. Perkins' characters and writing style are genuine, whimsical, funny, raw in places, and sweet. Her characters have all been interesting and have also all had some development to them as each story unfolds. Isla and the Happily Ever After was no different. There was much to love in the setting and in the characters and story. There was some heartbreak, some points where the characters really had to face themselves and come to terms with who they were and who they wanted to be and decide what they would choose. There were parts that deeply touched me and others that made me frustrated and upset.  I really, really wish this book (and all in the series) were clean. I'm sure many feel that wouldn't make them genuine, but for me there was too much language and sex. I also feel like these characters and stories have so much that can touch and teach others, but because of the content I'm fairly limited as to whom I can recommend them to. Content: Lots of language and sexual content. Source: Library
Livlovesbooks More than 1 year ago
Another charming read by Stephanie Perkins! This was a perfect story to get me through my work week. I immediately connected with Isla and reveled in her finally approaching and then dating Josh, the object of her 3-year crush, as their senior year at the School of America in Pairs progressed. Having the gang from the previous 2 books show up was also a lovely treat. QUICK BREAKDOWN Audiobook narrator: 4-stars – Grace Blewer does a good job. I like her French and Spanish accents and her tone matched this YA themed novel well. Story: it opens in New York at the Kismet café before the school year begins at the School of America in Pairs and spans Isla and Josh’s entire senior year. POV: Isla’s Tension: Kurt’s relationship with Isla, Josh’s attitude about school, Isla’s insecurity and conviction that she is just a place holder in Josh’s life Romance category/level: mature Young Adult; yearning, fresh and very sweet Sex: Yes, but there were only a few hot and heavy scenes which were suitably toned down for YA readers while still maintaining a sweetly sexy vibe. Setting: New York, Paris and Barcelona Sequel/Series planned: no. This was the third and final installment in the Anna & The French Kiss series.
cbk102400 More than 1 year ago
This send of to one of the best trilogies I have ever read was amazing. I love that we got to meet up with the two main characters from the two books (four total). I have loved Stephanie Perkins characters for years, and while  Anna & Ètienne  and Lola & Cricket have a special place in my heart I am happy to make room for Isla & Josh. These characters are REAL and go through real,  while sometimes exaggerated, experiences. These six will always be my friends and that may sound sad but they have taught me a lot about life. It's okay to be scared, to be yourself, and to not know where you're going, but if you believe in yourself and have people supporting you, you will get to the end and everywhere past it.
Brooke-The-Cover-Contessa More than 1 year ago
I was very excited to read this book. I have truly loved this series. I love how the characters are all interwoven but each story is hugely different from the one before. I honestly didn’t think Perkins could top herself after I read Lola, but I was wrong. This book was just as good if not better. Isla is this straight laced, gets good grades, keeps to herself, never breaks the rules kind of girl. She smart but has an underlying yearning to be something just a bit different. She’s trying to find herself but really doesn’t know where to look. Her insecurities are glaringly obvious, especially when it comes to boys. She’s obsessed with her classmate, Josh. He’s been the object of her affection since they were freshman. But she doesn’t think he notices her, and since he had a long time girlfriend she never thought they would have a chance. Her insecurity wreaks havoc with her ability to see that she is truly worthy of affection and love. Thankfully, she develops well and learns that she should be happy with who she is and that she needs to take chances. I can say that I didn’t relate to Isla as much as I did Anna and Lola, but there was something about Isla that really made me like her immensely. Josh, well, we met him in the previous books. But we didn’t get too much about him. We know he’s this kid who constantly blows off classes and doesn’t seem to care about school. What we don’t know is that Josh has his own insecurities. Not only about his ability to love and what that means, but also about the choices he has made in life. He’s so much more under the surface than you see. I kind of wished we could have had his POV in this book, but Isla does a good job of fleshing him out and showing us who he is, mostly through his graphic novel autobiography. And the fact that he’s always had a thing of Isla is just true love screaming for them to make it. Kurt,oh boy. He’s Isla’s best friend since they were in diapers. And just to make it perfectly clear, that is all they are, and there is never a hint of anything more. When you meet him you’ll understand why. He is extremely quirky and a creature of extreme habit. He’s also not one to hold back not only how he feels but what he wants to say. Sometimes to the point of it being inappropriate. I really loved the relationship between Kurt and Islas, though. He never held back from telling her exactly what he thought and she often needed that! Their relationship certainly has its rocky moments. And Isla’s insecurity gets in the way more often than not. She’s constantly trying to understand how Josh could possibly want to be with her, what he sees in her, how he can give his love to her. Josh wants her to take risks and open up, but it’s hard for her to break free from the regimented life she’s created for herself. Perkins does a great job with the anticipation in the relationship, the build up from crush to love as it unfolds in a fairly short amount of time. Then she brings it crashing down and wrenches your heart with Isla’s rash decisions. There are some more adult scenes in this book, not excessively descriptive, but you get the idea of what is happening. Perkins does a fabulous job with the world building in this book. In Anna we got some glimpses of Paris. In this book, it continues even more in depth than what we had before. And Perkins expands the world to include not only New York City (and since I’m a native New Yorker, you can imagine I was nit picky). Her descriptions are spot on. And even as she was describing Barcelona (a place I have never been but have studied the architecture of in the past) I could vividly picture it all in my head, like I was right there with the characters. And I love how she incorporates our old favorite characters into the book. I loved seeing them! My favorite part of this book was how emotional it was. I mean the other two were also full of emotions, but this one actually brought tears to my eyes and made them spill over. Not big ugly tears but tears that said “oh no” and then hope that things would work themselves out in the end.  If you’ve enjoyed the other books in this series, you will certainly love this one. Reminiscent of Kasie West’s The Distance Between Us, Isla shows us what it’s like to find true love and learn how to take the risk to trust ourselves to feel it and experience it.