I really didn’t expect to be writing this review on a rainy Sunday but here I am, so maybe bear with me? People We Meet on Vacation has been on my radar since I’ve heard about it, mostly because Beach Read was one of the few romance novels I enjoyed during my two-years-long reading hiatus, so even though I don’t really remember specifics about it, Emily Henry must have done something well, right? I mean, it makes sense, doesn’t it??? The truth is – I don’t know how it happened, but my expectations were sky-high with this one, and that’s probably why I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed.
People We Meet on Vacation promised me an angsty friends-to-lovers romance sprinkled with grumpy/sunshine dynamics, and to some extent it did deliver, yet now that I’ve reached the last page, I’m pretty sure that these characters won’t stay with me. I’m sorry but in my book, it’s quite unforgivable – when I’m in a romance reading mood, I read so many of them that most start blending together, and for me to really fall in love with one, I need it to strike me as unique. Is that unfair? Maybe. Yet that special spark can be a detail, really – I’m not saying that romance novels should be free of tropes at all. I love tropes! Or at least – I love my beloved tropes! I just need to feel engrossed in a story so much that the outside world disappears. Let’s just say that it didn’t happen with People We Meet on Vacation.
“The short one,” Alex says, the turns back to me, affecting the dopiest, most over-the-top look of adulation I’ve ever seen. “It was love at first sight.”
“Aww!” Wifey says, clutching her heart.
Hubby’s brow wrinkles. “When she was in the costume?”
Alex’s face tints pink under Hubby’s appraisal, and I cut in: “I have really great legs.”
Alex’s and Poppy’s love story did have high points, though. First, some of their interactions were irresistibly funny, and made me laugh out loud more than once. Secondly, I can’t write this review without mentioning that even though he’s very different, Alex is so much like my partner in the parts that count that it made me smile so much it hurt – and resulted in making me love him entirely too fast. And yes, absolutely, I’m gonna leave it at that because I’m not about to babble about my love life on the internet. Those of you who have been reading my reviews for years know that I don’t shy away from mentioning personal topics in my reviews, but my love life has always been my safe, secret bubble and I want to keep it that way. This being said, I do believe that it influenced my read, but I have a hard time pinpointing how exactly. The fact that he’s in love with her is so transparent from page one, and that’s a trope I usually love. But in this case? My feelings are messier. I don’t think I resented Poppy for not seeing through it, but maybe I did. I don’t know. The thing is, I’m not sure I’ve ever started seeing Poppy as a real person, which is a bit fucked-up given that the whole story was told through her POV, and that I related to her at times, especially with regards to her family. Something was missing, though? Maybe I’m not being fair, but I can’t help how I feel, now can I? Am I a mess??? Yet I genuinely enjoyed the forced proximity trope and everything that came from it, and the little moments, the stolen touches were everything. I also loved that they wouldn’t settle for changing who they were in order for their relationship to work, as that’s something that annoys me way too often when reading romance novels. Should we evolve? Sure! Should we change who we really are? Nope.
In the end however, it just felt too long. Even though I enjoyed most of the flashbacks, and appreciated the way they fleshed-out their relationship, I started to feel impatient for the story to start at last, and it didn’t, not really. Moreover, when we finally got to learn what had happened in Croatia two years prior, it felt like a let-down. After so much build-up, I expected to breathe through those pages and for them to break my heart and well, none of that happened?
When I reached the ending, I felt a pang of sadness because at that point, I wasn’t fully engaged in the story anymore. I was happy for them, and I’m glad I read it, but will I look back at People We Meet on Vacation with wonder? Will I ever reread it? Will Poppy and Alex keep living in my mind? Sadly, no.
About People We Meet on Vacation
Author : Emily Henry | Publisher : Berkley Books | Genre : Contemporary Romance | Pages : 384
Two best friends. Ten summer trips. One last chance to fall in love.
Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.
Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.
Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.
Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?
From the New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read, a sparkling new novel that will leave you with the warm, hazy afterglow usually reserved for the best vacations.