I love to read just about anything, as long as it's fiction. I read for me - that means I read what I want, when I want. My reviews tend to mostly be based on how I'm able to personally connect with the story/characters. They are not intended to influence someone to read, or not read, a particular book. I always encourage people to take a chance and make up your own mind.
Oh, and I love chocolate.
This was a fun an enjoyable read. I was looking for something light and romantic, and that's what I got with Isla and the Happily Ever After. I haven't read the other two books in this series (Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door), so I can't compare the books as other reviews have done.
When reading a book like this (the kind where you know what's going to happen in the end), I don't read with the mindset of "I wonder what's going to happen" but rather with "I wonder how the characters will grow from this". Unfortunately, I didn't really feel either Isla or Josh grew much from their experiences. Sure, they did some reflection during their time of separation, however after it just kinda felt as if the attitude was, "Cool, I learned something about myself. Now, where were we?" and they picked up right where they left off with the same plans for the future. I just didn't feel it was enough growth.
There was in this book (as there are in many books) an insta-love between Isla and Josh. I don't have anything against insta-love and usually appreciate it because I think for the most part the author is actually showing insta-attraction that feels like love, but they then also show how the real love develops. In this story, there's a long time crush (that appears to be one-sided, but might be two-sided) and then it's insta-love. OK, I can buy into that. But I never really saw the actual love between them develop. Why did they love each other? We even see parts where Isla isn't sure she likes the Josh that has to exist in his parent's world. Well, if she really loved him then she'd love (and understand) that side of him as well. I do believe that they loved each other, I just wish I could have seen more moments showing how it happened. For example, how was Josh different from her ex-boyfriend? We do get a snip-it at the end of the book from a third-party on how much better Isla and Josh are together than how he was with his ex, but it wasn't enough for me.
I've seen some reviews that don't like Isla's reaction when she is separated from Josh. I get it. It's dramatic and it's ridiculous. The thing is, I do think that Perkins was right on spot with Isla's reaction. What I think was missing was showing an alternate reason the devastation occurred. Perkins is an adult writing books that young adults will read. This puts her in a position to share her more experienced knowledge with those impressionable minds. Yes, some girls will act as if their world is over because their boyfriend had to move away. I get it. I support it. I went through it personally when I was a teenager. What I don't like is that in this book it's left with simply being because she's so in love she can't stand to be without him for one day.
My personal insight to this is that those feelings are real, and they are painful, but it's not because Isla doesn't exist without Josh. It's more along the lines that for the first time, Isla was the center of someone's world. And not just any one person - the one person she crushed on for years. I'm sure most readers can relate to having a crush on someone and wishing, desperately, that he/she would return those feelings. When it actually happens - that's a high. But take it away, and it's devastating. Love doesn't have to be involved here. Would Isla react this way simply because she's so in love she can't see straight? No, because that kind of love should understand that distance isn't a deal breaker. But she will react this way because she just came crashing down from a high she had spent years wishing for. In addition, Isla is the type of person who is heavily dependent on one person at a time (at least that's the impression I got). With that kind of personality, it's easy to see how she could lose sight of the line that separates her from Josh.
All in all I did enjoy this book, and I'll likely read the first to books in this series.