People We Meet on Vacation
by Emily Henry
Release Date: May 11, 2021
Number of pages: 382
Ages 16 and up
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?
This story is quite the journey, and I loved it. It’s told in a non-linear way with the reader getting glimpses of the current summer and the past summers which brought the main characters to where they are today. I know there are people who do not like the time jumps, but it really works well for this story and I cannot imagine this story unfolding any other way. The author does a perfect job of leading the reader through the many aspects of the relationship between Poppy and Alex.
Truth be told, I wasn’t so sure I was going to be onboard the Poppy train. While I’m a big fan of best friends to lovers when it’s done right. Meaning, both parties have unrequited love. Or there was some type of misunderstanding or block that had one not realize the feelings they had were love. Not so much when one does all the pining and the other one finally realizes their feelings only after piner moves on. It seemed to me pretty early on, although we never get Alex’s point of view, that he had feelings for Poppy. What wasn’t so clear was what Poppy felt for Alex. Like I mentioned, things unfold in the perfect way in this story. Poppy kept me guessing. One minute I would think that of course she cared for Alex in a romantic way. Then I’d doubt myself and think she didn’t realize the depth of her emotions. All while this story pulled me in further and further and had Poppy winning me over.
The friendship and tension between Alex and Poppy all came to a head in Croatia a couple years before present day, but the reader is not privy to what happened there until late in the book. We get some context clues so there is a rough idea, but not the particulars. Once it’s all laid out, it’s obvious to the reader what happened. Just about the same time Poppy and Alex are able to take a step back and see that maybe things weren’t quite what they seemed. I love that Poppy realizes her mistakes without them having to be pointed out to her. Yes, it took years. But Alex had the same issues so I can’t hold it against her too much.
I could relate to Alex so much, which made me root for him to be happy. Whether that was with Poppy or not, I wasn’t quite sure at the beginning. As the story went on, I knew this odd couple were perfect for each other. Alex could be content with someone else. But he’d never find his passion without Poppy and vice versa.
This was my second Emily Henry book and I’ve loved them both. I’m officially a fan.