Finally! A series with the perfect ending.
Isla has always had a crush on the introverted cartoonist Josh. But Josh has always been inaccessible to her due to his group of friends and his girlfriend Rashmi. But with all of his friends graduated from SOAP with him still in his senior year, Josh is all alone.
Isla has only ever had her best friend, Kurt, who she’s known since childhood. Kurt’s autism has driven other people away from her, and they are inexplicably close.
So when Josh finally enters her life, she couldn’t be happier. But, is it the happily ever after she’s been dreaming of?
I love this plot so much. This isn’t a typical story about two people trying to get together. It’s a story about two people who get together, with ideals in mind, and then reality hits and they learn to grow with it. And possibly without each other.
The best part about this plot, ironically, is that it feels like instalove. And it’s supposed to. Because Josh and Isla aren’t in love with each other at first, despite whatever they do in Barcelona. Naturally, this is an instant turn off to some people. But the question of the instant attraction helped me recognize that reality was going to hit them harshly.
And when it does, Perkins does it quite beautifully. And while not all their problems are solved by the end, they certainly on their way to a better start. And that’s a wonderful story to read.
I can see how some people may not like Isla. She may seem lonely, and annoying, and unrealistically obsessed with Josh. But that’s sort of the point. She doesn’t know how relationships work. And over the course of the story her blandness is brightened when she begins her relationship with Josh.
I’m so happy that Josh gets his own book. There’s this point where you stop seeing him through Isla’s filtered vision and get a real idea of who he is. He’s got passions and dreams, and when he finally gets slapped by reality he grows.
In fact, all the characters here grow. All of them. Side characters are not stock, static, flat characters. Hattie, Kurt, Sanjita—they play very important roles in the story.
Kurt has become a particular favourite of mine. While his autism is certainly key to his personality quirks, he has personality outside of that. He loves cartography. He likes exploration. He likes routine. And he’s sincerely concerned about his best friend. The best part? There is no romantic attachment whatsoever and that is beautiful.
I’ll admit it, this book is kind of slow paced. Part of that is because of the excessive instalove at the beginning of the story. It’s heavy. And very overwhelming. But, if you can get past Barcelona, the real story starts.
I also have to detract minor points because Perkins doesn’t take advantage of the traditional handwritten letters that Isla and Josh exchange. I would’ve liked to see that.
I love Josh’s graphic novel. I almost wish I could read Josh’s graphic novel, that how much I love this element. It’s so important to how he thinks and feels, and its indicative of how he grows as a character. And the way that Perkins describes it and pairs it with Isla’s reactions to it make them so…vivid.
I like how Isla and Josh benefit from each other’s presence, but they need something more beyond the marshmallow gushy relationship. There are flaws that need to be addressed, and accounted for.
For Isla, its that she’s idolized Josh for so long she doesn’t really know who he is. For Josh, he’s so afraid of being alone, he picks Isla because he think he could love her. And in the end, they grow out of these fantasies and learn to love the real person. And maybe even life without each other in it. And I think that’s indicative of how much they’ve learned from each other, and by extension how good they are for each other.
If you haven’t guess already I adore this book. It’s a different kind of love story. And I rather enjoyed it.
Recommendation: Buy. What a great finale to a series! Fans of Anna and the French Kiss and those looking for a different kind of love story should check it out!