So, I think I’ve discovered that romances featuring idiots who love each other but refuse to talk about their feelings might be my catnip.
Seriously. I requested People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry on a whim. I had read her previous novel Beach Read and I was only lukewarm about it, but when I’m browsing books on NetGalley, I tend to get FOMO* and usually request the most requested items, so I don’t miss out on something great. Hence the quick click on People We Meet on Vacation.
<Side note: I’m going to give Beach Read another chance. I want to see if I really didn’t love it or I just read it at the wrong time. Anyone else have this problem that you’re not sure if you dislike a book because of the book itself or because of the factors outside of your control during your reading experience? Like when you read an amazing book, whatever you read next doesn’t really stand a chance? Or when a book has a similar plot or similar tropes you just spend all the time comparing it to the other books? Or when you’re completely stressed about a raging global pandemic and you’re just plain scared all the time and the stress taints every part of your life? Just me? Ok cool.>
<Side note #2: I have to stop clicking on all the most requested items. I’m up to 30 books to be read from NetGalley and it is giving me heart palpitations.>
Well, I picked up People We Meet on Vacation and couldn’t put it down. Which I did… eventually… at 1am… after I finished it.
So let me set the scene:
Poppy is a travel writer for an upscale travel magazine (think Travel + Leisure) and she seems to be stuck. Her wonderful job doesn’t seem to fill her with the joy she used to feel. She wanders about her days in a funk. When she gets the advice to think about the last time she was truly happy, she remembers the last Summer Trip she took with her best friend, Alex. Only it’s been two years since her last Summer Trip with Alex and they haven’t spoken since.
On a whim, she texts him and it restarts their friendship – albeit with lots of awkwardness and sexual tension. They reinstate the Summer Trip and they choose Palm Springs, which is also the site where Alex’s brother is scheduled to tie the knot. It seems that fate is against them when everything starts to go wrong – their rental car is a disaster, the AC in their AirBnB doesn’t work (and it is summer in the desert), and even though Poppy wants to do everything in her power to fix their relationship, she won’t talk about her feelings or address what happened on their last Summer Trip.
Intermixed with the vacation in Palm Springs – aka, the vacation when everything goes wrong – is the story of their twelve year friendship told through all of their Summer Trips, culminating with the scene that started their estrangement in the first place. So will these two idiots finally be able to admit their real feelings or is their friendship doomed to fail?
So this might veer a little into SPOILER territory. I mean, it is a romance novel so you may have a slight inkling how this might end. So, if you don’t want any spoilers on how the book ends, I’d stop reading now. Like NOW.
There are so many things I loved about this novel. Anyone who has read any of my Bookish Travels posts (click here, here, here, here, or here to read them) knows how much I love to travel! It was so delightful to see a character who loves it as much as I do. Also exciting – to read about places that I would love to visit right now. Which honestly is anywhere outside of my house.
Also, I loved both Poppy and Alex as individual characters. I loved Poppy’s enthusiasm for everything. She’s someone I’d want as my BFF and Alex is such a sweet guy that I don’t understand how Poppy couldn’t recognize her feelings for him. In fact, these characters were so incredibly conscious of one another and so incredibly considerate of the others’ feelings, it almost seemed like their friendship was too good to be true.
I also really dig it when I can spend the whole book leaning into the slow, slow burn, but also screaming, “Just talk to each other, you freaking idiots!!”, “You clearly love each other!!”, or “Just say something!!” The idea that you don’t want to wreck a friendship by trying for more is just my jam. Seriously, I love it when two people who so obviously care about one another (read: idiots) finally decide to give a romantic relationship a shot. And I should know. That’s how I ended up with Mr. Librarian (and yes, I was an idiot).
I also think there is a melancholic beauty to two people who recognize that they need help and try to do something about it. I mean, from the get-go it is clear that although Poppy and Alex love each other, they both have trust issues but, by the end, they recognize it enough to both seek out therapy individually before they can eventually reconcile and see if they do indeed have a future together.
In the author’s note at the end, she indicates that this book is a retelling (or inspired by) the movie, When Harry Met Sally. I can see glimpses of the film in the novel, but honestly, I like this novel better. Both Poppy and Alex are way more likeable than Sally and Harry – despite all of their emotional issues. So if you’re a fan of the movie, this book is definitely for you!
People We Meet on Vacation, expected release date: May 11, 2021
*Fear Of Missing Out (I get this a lot with books)