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Parents' Guide to

Isla and the Happily Ever After

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Romantic trilogy finale has more steam, less banter.

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Kids say (2 ):

Perkins is extremely adept at describing adolescent romance, expressing the profound way in which attraction and desire can overpower and overwhelm the senses. Her swoon-worthy first two novels came out less than a year apart in 2010 and 2011, but, due to the author's self-acknowledged depression, fans had to wait nearly three years for the last book to get published. The wait is finally over, and Perkins' third protagonist, Isla, doesn't fall in love after months of platonic friendship like Anna did or reconnect with a childhood crush like Lola did but rather immediately after years of unrequited longing. Isla has always wanted Josh, and now that Josh is finally single (he had a serious girlfriend all through junior year), everything comes together rather perfectly at first -- until Josh's risk-taking and broody family life (and Isla's crippling insecurities) get in the way.

It's no surprise that Perkins saved the steamiest romance for this final book. But there's something to be said for the slow burn from friends-to-more that formed the basis of her first two literary couples. This time, the passion has to be intense, because the conversational banter and buildup of romantic chemistry is replaced by the BOOM of crackling instant love. In other words, this is definitely more of a make-out book than the previous two. Isla and Josh have an undeniable connection and memorable adventures through Europe and New York, but, when the other two couples finally make an appearance, it's obvious they won't knock Anna and Etienne or Lola and Cricket off as Perkins' best couple.

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