People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction
May 11, 2021, by Berkley
Review by Angela
“You’re staring at me because I’m tall?” Alex says
“Very tall,” I say, as if that clears things up.
It’s easier than saying, I have missed you, beautiful smile. It’s so good to see you, strong arms and legs. Thank you, freakishly taut belly, for feeding this person I love so much.
After reading last year’s release by this author, Beach Read, I couldn’t wait to find out if her sophomore effort in the genre would live up to my extremely high expectations. Spoiler alert: it did.
People We Meet on Vacation is kind of an ode to the tropey best friends to lovers romantic comedy movie. In her afterward, this author lists When Harry Met Sally as an inspiration and I can tell you that I didn’t even have to have her mention that because I got that sense almost immediately when Poppy and Alex first meet and definitely after their first road trip together. But don’t worry, there are other beloved tropes mixed in… opposites attract, slow burn, and “there’s only one bed, whatever shall we do?”.
Almost immediately I fell in love with each of these characters in all their weird, charming, confused glory. They had the kind of chemistry right from the start that as a romance reader you desperately desire in a love story. They meet in their freshman year in college and are so different that they don’t feel that spark of friendship, that is until after an arranged road trip back home where they connect.
He is tall, quiet, and eager to see the library.
I’m short, loud, and hoping someone comes by and invites us to a real party.
By the time we part ways, I’m fairly confident we’ll never speak again.
This book is told by alternating chapters of the current summer vacation with those of vacations past so that readers really get that feel of why they share such a deep and abiding friendship. And why they are so afraid to let that friendship turn into more for fear of losing each other. Poppy is free-spirited, restless, and hasn’t had any desire to settle down. She loves meeting new people and has made a career of traveling around the world. A career that started by taking trips with her best friend on the shoe-string budget of two college students.
Alex is her exact opposite, a literature student who became a school teacher that lives near his family in the same small town where he and Poppy grew up. He is delightfully beta and at first, comes off as kind of repressed and up-tight. But with Poppy, he is what she calls “naked Alex”, funny and quirky and eager to roll right along with his best friend experiencing all the things. Their snarky back and forth and inside jokes were amazing and had me laughing out loud so many times.
When we were together, though, the game didn’t even exist. The rest of the world dissolved until I believed this was how things truly were. Like I’d never been that girl who’d felt entirely alone, misunderstood, and I’d always been this one: known, loved, wholly accepted by Alex Nilsen.
These two made my heart melt. Literally, melt. As someone who married her best friend, I could 100% relate to their fear of losing their person if it didn’t work out. This book takes its readers on a journey from 12 years ago when they first meet, then all through the ups and downs of their friendship and up to the present day where they are at a breaking point and need to make a decision about what they are going to do about their complicated feelings for each other. Stay apart, maybe settle down with someone else but miss their true other half, or admit their feelings and go all-in on a once-in-a-lifetime love. The fact that Poppy and Alex love each other desperately is palpable throughout the book. You could practically feel their devotion radiating from the pages. But my favorite thing is that they feel safe and protected with each other.
The ending was beautiful and I am so thankful that this author included an epilogue. I NEEDED to see this couple making it work, and all the ups and downs and inbetweens. I also wouldn’t mind meeting them again in a future book.
I predict People We Meet on Vacation will be on my best of list at the end of the year. Emily Henry has this gorgeous, lyrical way of writing that gets to me. Once I start reading I just can’t stop, and then I get to the end want to start all over again.
Final grade- A