Book Related Topics, Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction, romance

Book Review: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

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“It hurts to want it all, so many things that can’t coexist within the same life.”

Poppy and Alex are best friends who go on vacation every summer. They’re complete opposites. Poppy loves things, Alex hates things. Poppy is fun and loves to meet people and wild. Alex is reserved and wears khakis and only travels with Poppy. For most of the year they live apart, Alex in Ohio, Poppy in New York City. They communicate mostly on the phone until they see each other once a year every summer vacation. For a decade, they’ve taken this summer trip until two years ago when something happened during the trip and completely ruins their friendship. When the book begins, they haven’t spoken in two years. Poppy is unhappy and the job that used to bring her so much joy no longer does. She’s convinced that if she can get Alex to go on one more summer trip that it will save their friendship and take them back to exactly how they used to be.

“I’m on vacation. Vacations always end. It’s the very fact that it’s finite that makes traveling special. You could move to any one of those destinations you loved in small doses, and it wouldn’t be the spellbinding, life-altering seven days you spend there as a guest, letting a place into your heart fully, letting it change you.”

The trope of friends to lovers has been done to death but I still enjoyed it and this story felt fresh. I think the years they’ve been friends and the depth of their friendship was adequate enough to see how they could have fallen in love with each other. It didn’t feel overdone or stale. Their banter with each other was funny and had me smiling as I read. Even with the sexual tension simmering below, you could tell they were actual friends and that without the attraction they would have still been friends. Also, both the characters are loveable. Nothing kills a romance book more than characters who nobody wants to fall in love with in real life. Poppy is sweet but sassy and outgoing with a very vulnerable side that she only shows to the people super close to her. Alex is very straitlaced, having been forced to grow up so quickly after his mother died and his father fell apart.

This story is narrated by Poppy and is told in alternating timelines. She takes us through the last 10 years of summer vacation with Alex, while we read about their present day falling out and the pains she’s taking to repair it. I quite enjoyed the alternating timelines. The past Alex and Poppy were quite different and a lot more fun than what we found in the present. If you do not like alternating timelines, you might not like this book.

Towards the end, in a bid to force the last conflict that always comes up in romance novels, Henry misses the mark and the book loses its momentum a little bit. Poppy completely forgets how to use her words and instead avoids all manner of communication. A lot of the things she did and said towards the end didn’t make sense for her character. I felt that the final conflict of the book was contrived and not well written at all.

The reason for their fall out was also very obvious from the start but the author drew it out for so long and the characters kept referring to “what happened in Croatia”. The drag out added nothing to the story and I’m sure Henry wrote it to add a little tension. But it’s a romance book about two friends, of course we know what happened in Croatia to make their friendship completely awkward.

All in all, I quite enjoyed this book. It was an easy one to read and wasn’t completely fluffy and without depth. I gave this one 3 stars on Goodreads and I recommend it if you’re looking for something on the lighter spectrum.

Leggy

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