Author: You and Me on Vacation
Publisher: Penguin UK
First Published: 08 July 2021
“Even if we never kissed, never said the words outright, we were keeping whole parts of our hearts for each other only.”
I will start by saying that I was given an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own. Thank you so much to wonderful people at Penguin UK and Netgalley for sending a copy my way!
TEN SUMMER TRIPS
THEIR LAST CHANCE TO FALL IN LOVE
12 SUMMERS AGO: Poppy and Alex meet. They hate each other, and are pretty confident they’ll never speak again.
11 SUMMERS AGO: They’re forced to share a ride home from college and by the end of it a friendship is formed. And a pact: every year, one vacation together.
10 SUMMERS AGO: Alex discovers his fear of flying on the way to Vancouver.
Poppy holds his hand the whole way.
7 SUMMERS AGO: They get far too drunk and narrowly avoid getting matching tattoos in New Orleans.
2 SUMMERS AGO: It all goes wrong.
THIS SUMMER: Poppy asks Alex to join her on one last trip. A trip that will determine the rest of their lives.
This was just what I needed! A sweet friends-to-lovers romance with the grumpy and sunshine trope, which is honestly my life. You and Me on Vacation left in a spiral of emotions. I adored it. Also, given we are mid pandemic, and I am currently in another lockdown – a special shout out to the Victorian Government– this book gave me to vacation vibes I have been sorely needing.
Poppy has lost that spark in her work and, well, her life. And she knows exactly when she lost it; two summers ago, when her relationship with her best friend, Alex, went horribly wrong. They’ve stopped talking. She’s pretty sure he hates her. Poppy decides to take a risk and reach out to Alex for one last holiday.
Poppy is our sunshine-y character. She has landed her dream job as a travel writer and has escaped her small family town. I’m not going to lie; Poppy did come off a little too manic pixie dream girl for my liking, so I was worried she was going to get on my nerves. However, as the story unfolds, we get to know Poppy better. She’s insecure and not the best at asking for help or talking about her feelings. She’s quick to put up this causal, cheery façade of everything will be okay. She is trying her hardest to make this holiday be like their old ones because she needs Alex in her life. She’s lonely and she misses him. I am thankful that Emily Henry wrote Poppy because I find her fear and action relatable.
On the flip side to our sunshine-y Poppy, we have Alex. He is strait-laced, revered and grumpy. And – no surprises – I adored him. Alex is such a sweetheart! Family is the most important thing to him, especially given that he helped raise his younger siblings. You can definitely see that Alex had to grow up too fast. Poppy and these holidays bring out his playful side.
Their relationship is built on the whole opposite attract — Alex grounds Poppy while she adds spontaneity to his strict schedule. I adore how we see the shift in their friendship after they graduate. They no longer live close together or are on the same schedule. Their contact becomes more infrequent, which is a harsh reality of any relationship. After their first holiday, they set aside a few weeks every summer to see each other. Honestly, this caused my heart to just about exploded with joy.
There is a lot of underlining angst in this story, and their relationship, which I think bubbles away as we only get Poppy’s point of view. We are told her side of events and are trying to piece together what Alex is thinking based on his action and Poppy’s interpterion of these actions. I loved this because it felt realistic. Also, at this stage, a dual point of view in romances is the norm so this feels refreshing.
The narrative unfolds in two timelines. The first timeline is after that fateful summer where Poppy and Alex are piecing together their fractured relationship, and the second is highlights from their past trips. I love love love that we get to see Poppy and Alex’s past holidays and their friendship blossom. Knowing just how important these holidays are to the pair’s relationship, it’s wonderful to see it all unfold rather than being told what happened.
The big reveal was the only thing I didn’t like about having the dual timeline. I feel like it was, honestly, anticlimactic especially given what had unfolded in the present timeline. Ultimately it came down to miscommunication which is a pet peeve of mine that is why I couldn’t give this a full five stars.
You and Me on Vacation is a fun read with a surprisingly emotional hit from Emily Henry. I will be picking up whatever she releases next because I love her writing style and the way she develops her characters. At this point, I don’t even need to read the blurb before buying. If you love a sweet, slightly angsty friends-to-lovers romance, this is the one for you! I also recommend if you are in desperate need of a holiday but must stay put, this is the perfect escape for you.