Alex and Poppy met in college and struck up a unique friendship. Nothing alike, they balanced each other out and became a support system that they each needed. As they grew older and life moved them further apart they kept up the tradition they started in college of taking a summer vacation together. Summer’s that were the bright spot of their year until something happened two years ago and they haven’t spoken since. Until one night when Poppy texted a message, “Hey”.
Last year’s Beach Read was in my Top 5 best books of the year so I had really high expectations for People We Meet on Vacation. While it didn’t touch the right note that Beach Read hit (right time to read, right mood, etc.) it was still an outstandingly good book and will again be placed in my Top 10 at least so far this year. The awkward nerdy-hot Alex, and the retro-dressed outgoing yet insecure Poppy were both from the same home town and although they didn’t know each other growing up immediately clicked on a long drive home for winter break. Their friendship came fast and solid. Alex was non judgmental about her unique family and she jokingly picked and prodded Alex out of his multiple comfort zones. They had different goals in life and supported each others dreams, to the detriment of their own feelings. When their summer vacation went awry two years ago causing a rift the reader see’s through Poppy’s perspective and feels how deeply disturbed she’s been despite not knowing exactly what happened. By the time she typed ‘Hey’ I was all in on their relationship becoming something more secure and felt the desperation Poppy was feeling that kept me on the emotional edge of my seat wishing for their happiness.
The clever use of flashbacks of Poppy and Alex’s vacations means that we knew Alex just as well by the time that fateful text was made. I was caught hook, line, and sinker and there was no way I wasn’t going to finish this story, needing to know where Poppy and Alex stood at the end. As we lived through what might be their last summer vacation together (after all life moves forward despite our relationships and feelings) I teetered between tears and laughter, caught in their emotional drama. Emily Henry really knows how to craft friendship novels fraught with emotional crisis.
People We Meet on Vacation was just as good as last year’s Beach Read so why did I score it a half rating less? I really think it was the fact that in Beach Read the characters lives before their story started together had the drama whereas in this novel the drama was created by these two characters. It’s a very small detail and truthfully it was used very effectively. I just liked how I felt while reading Beach Read much better than I did while reading People We Meet on Vacation. Reading is all about your own perspective being stamped upon the story you are reading. I was a half rating short of being in the perfect mood to read this book. That’s it. No other reason, it was really just as good. In fact, I’ll probably pick it up in audio to live through their relationship again. If my feelings change about the rating, I’ll let you know!
I received a copy of this ARC through NetGalley and the publisher for my honest review and it was honest!
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