Book of the Month: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

It's the happiesttttt time of the year! It's the most wonderful time of the year. Welcome to December, people! One thing about me, I will help you manufacture joy and cheer for the Christmas season. First, check out this playlist to help you get into the Christmas spirit. I have decided to not be retrospective at all about this year because...well, completing this sentence would be me being retrospective, no? I reserve the right to change my mind about this by the way. 

Another book of the month! Shall we just make this a book blog altogether? NO. Lol. The book of this month is lighthearted, witty, breezy, and fun. It's called "People We Meet on Vacation" and it's by Emily Henry. Most books I bring to y'all on this blog are often heavy and with depths that may even discourage you from reading sometimes (I may just be assuming this). NOT this month's book. It is especially fitting for the holidays, as you get cozy and settle into a mood that screams "ready to chill". In sum, this is basically a romcom in a book form. I struggled with how much I should say about the book because I knew nothing about it going in and I think it improved my reading experience not having a clue about the book, the characters, or even the story.  In any case, it tells the story of Poppy and Alex. 

Poppy and Alex are two very different people who met in college but were accidentally from the same town in Ohio. After a ride back home the summer after freshman year where they talked about everything, a friendship was born. The both of them remained best friends through everything--graduation from college, new jobs, careers, etc. When their friendship first began, they also started a tradition to take a vacation every year and each time they reunited they continued as if no time had passed. But then something happened two years ago in Croatia and both of them have not spoken in two years. To get her friend back, Poppy suggested a trip to Alex and he agreed. The book took us through their path to reconciliation but not before carrying us along a journey to understand where they came from.

Let me first tell you the best part of this book, THE DIALOGUE. Woah. The banter between Alex and Poppy is so natural, so fluid that you'd think you were right there with them. It also helps you realize the connection between Alex and Poppy and how lovely friendship or any relationship—with your person (whatever that means)—can be. This book was funny, sweet, delightful, beautiful, and was not at all as cheesy as one might think. Poppy was the narrator in this book, and as far as narrators go, she was upbeat, quirky, charming. I quite liked the depiction of influencers and influencing and all that go with it.  I liked how the author tackled questioning life and questioning your own choices, even the ones you once dreamed of. Like, are you even a millennial if you haven't wondered if you should even be on the career path you are on and why the heck you chose it in the first place? But more importantly, the emptiness that comes after achieving a big goal you've wanted for so long. Let me tell you, I got a PhD last year and part of my unwillingness to be retrospective about this year (mentioned above) is dealing with that feeling. Okay, I chased this for so long and finally got it. Sooo? I also loved how the author reminded us that friend breakups can be hard too. We learned a lot about friendship, love, platonic intimacy, vulnerability in way that everyone can relate to. 

I will say that because Poppy was the narrator, we didn't get much of Alex's perspective and if I wasn't feeling generous I would accuse him of being annoying and not as invested in the friendship as much as Poppy. But I am feeling generous so I will say it's possible that his introversion in contrast with Poppy's...well Poppy's poppiness...created an illusion of someone who didn't care. But even when he had strong feelings about something or someone, he mostly just moped around and offered one or two liners here and there, whereas Poppy, well let's say she expresses everythang she is thinking.  I loved how reserved Alex was but I also can't stand a guy who can't communicate. Hate it. So there's that. 

I must admit that at some point in the book, you would know where it ends but it doesn't take away the fun of the book nor would you want to put it down. If you love to travel, well you are in for a ride. The author painted a vivid image of their travels in a way that allowed you to vicariously visit New Orleans, Tuscany, California, Croatia (and some other places I am definitely forgetting) through Poppy. 

Now on to what I didn't like. Oh but you knew this was coming. The timeline will make you dizzy. I had a hard time keeping up with what summers the author was referring too. Perhaps if there was a table of content or some sort of chart to guide things along. Some of us are lazy readers and we don't want to have to flip back and forth. Towards the end, I realized she was alternating between "this summer" and a reverse chronological order of summers from 11 (12?) years ago. So this summer. Then 12 summers ago. Then this summer. Then 11 summers ago. Then this summer. Then 10 summers ago. You get the drift. But then  because the prologue was "Five summers ago" which completely threw me off. Exactly. Next, the tenses. I am surprised at how seriously I took this and how much of it I noticed because I am not a stickler when it comes to writing rules [except when it hinders the pleasure of your readers or complicates things]. But wow, the tenses were all over the place: present tense, future tense, past tense. I think it added to the confusion I mentioned earlier about timelines. The book was about 360 pages and it could be a 100 pages shorter. It dragged on for way toooo long. The focus on what "happened in Croatia" made me irritated. They kept mentioning it every page and then you get to it and it's so underwhelming. My hot take to authors is to not have that build up to this one major secret or incidence that is such a big deal. It almost always is a let down. And it was in this case. I wish we just enjoyed the book without the constant referral to Croatia two years ago. 

But these are not altogether crazy things at all.  Despite these, this book was very interesting and I greatly enjoyed reading it.

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. You will enjoy their story.



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