Review of People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
Henry strikes the perfect tone for this wonderfully sweet, funny, friendship-based, romantic story that has lovely depth. People We Meet on Vacation made me laugh a lot--and got me a little teary in the end.
In Emily Henry's newest novel People We Meet on Vacation, best friends and polar opposites Alex and Poppy are on their annual vacation. Poppy is impulsive and fun-loving, and Alex would generally rather stay home and read than seek out adventure.
The pair has long been emotionally inseparable despite living in different cities--Poppy in New York and Alex in their small hometown. But two years ago on their vacation, something BIG happened. It threatened their friendship and continues to loom over everything between them.
They haven't talked about any of it, but Poppy has convinced Alex to join her again on vacation to try to recapture their effortless times together. Surely, she thinks, they can fix everything in a week. She'll just push down her strange feelings about Alex and pretend that fateful time never even happened. The characters desperately need to address deeper issues about themselves and their pasts, but the trip keeps going awry.
Henry's structure of taking us back and forth from past vacations and meetings between Alex and Poppy to the present day is never jarring, and watching Poppy and Alex's friendship build over time is satisfying. I adored this aspect.
The title relates to the thrill of meeting new people and connecting with them (this also turns out to be important to characters' broader life choices), but I also kept thinking about how Poppy and Alex only felt that they were truly themselves and fully vulnerable with each other. In a way, their annual vacations--which become the sole times they reliably spend time together--bring out each of their honest, authentic selves; they feel like different, fully realized people when they're together.
This was a will they/won't they story I loved. Some of the structure of having one character hold such emotional power over the other was frustrating because of the unlikely obliviousness required on the part of that character. But Henry strikes the perfect tone for this wonderfully sweet, funny, friendship-based, romantic story that has lovely depth. People We Meet on Vacation made me laugh a lot--and got me a little teary in the end.
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