Series: Anna and the French Kiss #3
Published by Dutton Children's Books on August 14, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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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.
Isla had the potential to be my favorite of this particular series, but instead fell to last place (And let me state that I didn’t like Lola, but probably would have liked it more if it had been released after Isla). I loved, loved, loved Anna and the French Kiss, the School of America in Paris, Isla, and Josh. And I really enjoyed the version of Isla and the Happily Ever After that I rewrote in my head while reading the actual book (this rewrite consisted mostly of strike-throughs, so it wasn’t too much additional work). My problem with the actual physical copy of this book? A creepy case of instalove.
It’s not fair! Anna and Etienne took the time to become the best of friends! Lola and Cricket were childhood friends! And Isla creepily feel in love with Josh three years before she ever really met him. Yes, yes, we can all relate to unrequited crushes. In high school, you see a cute guy or girl or stuffed animal and you discover their name and doodle it in your notebook. You fantasize about meeting him/her/it and having your first awkward conversation. You jokingly tell your friends about the wedding you’re already planning — jokingly! You don’t actually believe yourself actually in love with a person you’ve never actually met. Sorry, I’m italicizing all over the place. And maybe I’m wrong. Maybe people can relate to the way Isla feels and I’m the anomaly. If that’s the case and you’re a Stephanie Perkins fan, then this book is probably going to be a pretty amazing read for you. But if you’re like me, then you’ll most likely have a problem with the fact that just two months into their relationship, Isla and Josh cannot stand the idea of separation; they’re already declaring their love for each other; they’re abandoning their other friends and relationships in lieu of obsessing over each other; they’re planning their entire future together. Yeah, those things kind of ruined the book for me.
Which completely, entirely sucks because this book has so much going for it. The focus on Isla’s actual, real friendship with a person of the opposite sex is complete magic and I wish more books could do this as well as Isla does. The friendship between Isla and Kurt almost takes a front seat (can you use that phrase like that?) to the romantic relationship. Almost. Which is kind of huge! It’s also probably the thing that saved the book for me. Well, that, and the romance. As much as I didn’t love what went down with Isla and Josh, they were so adorably romantic that it warmed my heart over and over again (and made me wish I supported them!). Stephanie Perkins takes the cake for writing the most romantic scenes for all time, and for that reason, I will always read her books. But after Isla, I’ll forever be wary.
Basically, what worked: the romance, Perkins’s effortless writing style, the characterization (including Kurt and Isla’s entire family), and the setting.
What didn’t work: Isla’s and Josh’s instarelationship, the inclusion of favorite characters from the previous two books/the entire ending (they’re, unfortunately, related), the entire situation surrounding Josh’s graphic novel (which is kind of a major plot point — and a terrible one, at that).
The plot is unimaginative and unrealistic. The ending almost ruins Anna and the French Kiss for me. While I like Isla and Josh individually, together, they make me want to pull out my hair. That being said, I’ll probably reread this book for Perkins’s beautiful writing. However, I don’t feel like I can recommend it, which makes me all kinds of sad.