- Emily Henry
- Friends to Lovers Trope
- 361 pages
Poppy Wright is a travel writer living in New York City. She treks across the globe, visiting amazing places with spectacular views—Yet her favorite trip of the year is her summer trip with her best friend, Alex. Alex and Poppy met more than ten years ago, during a college ride-share to their hometown together. Knowing nothing more about each other than their majors, they quickly realized (after several hours stuck in the car together) that they had very little in common—except? They both want to see the world. While Poppy and Alex couldn’t be more different, every summer for a decade, they take one vacation together.
Poppy has the life she always wanted. She’s not a small-town girl anymore, she lives in the big city, works for a serious professional magazine, and she even has a city apartment to herself. Yet, she can’t seem to get out of a rut. When a friend asks her when she was last truly happy, she realizes it was on her last summer trip with Alex, two years ago; except the trip didn’t end the way Poppy and Alex had both hoped. Hoping to make everything right again, Poppy reaches out to Alex and plans one last trip together. She has just one week to fix their friendship and her own happiness. What could go wrong?
People We Meet On Vacation has been widely well-received, topping bestseller charts on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and even BookTok. Yet, I found myself wondering why it’s so well loved. The story is supposedly modeled after the classic, When Harry Met Sally, but I certainly didn’t find myself connecting with the characters in this novel the same way.
The entire novel takes place in Poppy’s view, so we see her perspective exclusively. For this particular storyline, that poses some issues. Firstly, Alex is seen as her primary love interest (and it’s clear to Poppy that it is unrequited), but we never seem to get the full picture of when her feelings changed. It isn’t until later in the novel that we begin to see some sort of understanding, and when that knowledge is revealed, I find a sort of resentment toward Poppy (as a reader) for keeping this information from us. While it’s unlikely Poppy didn’t understand her feelings herself, as a realistic character likely wouldn’t in real life; this pivotal “fight” Alex and Poppy had on their Croatia trip becomes an important moment that the reader should be introduced to earlier than the last 100 pages of this story.
I also found myself frustrated with Henry’s writing style, particularly her ability to switch back and forth between the present or “This Summer” to the past “Summers Ago.” In sections where Henry writes of Poppy and Alex’s past trips, there are several tense changes which make the storyline hard to follow. Each time one of these chapters popped up, I dreaded getting through it. Many of these sections also had extreme amounts of unnecessary detail that wasn’t relevant to Poppy’s character development, such as what she ate for breakfast that day, or the types of buildings she thought Alex liked to look at—these aren’t relevant details, and in turn, feel like filler pieces to make the novel longer.
Though there were many things in this particular novel that didn’t speak to me, I did love how Henry wrote about Poppy’s family. While we don’t spend a lot of time learning about her family, each of her brothers (and her parents) are well developed characters that clearly have helped shaped Poppy. I loved the little notes about her brother’s antics and the funny text chains between siblings. Seeing the connection between Poppy’s family gave me hope that she could recognize the connection between her and Alex later on. I also enjoyed the ending of this book. While I won’t share any spoilers, I think Emily Henry focused greatly on the “imperfect” aspects of relationships, especially toward the end. This truly brought the story to life and gave the plotline a realistic element that made everything believable.
While People We Meet On Vacation wasn’t one of my personal favorites, I can see why readers love it. The story line between Poppy and Alex is relatable, realistic, and at times, funny. Poppy is the character we all love to see in novels—one that embraces a realistic persona of mistakes, difficult choices, and failures. Her complete optimism with each passing difficulty truly makes her a character that will be cherished among the Romance genre.
How would you rate People We Meet On Vacation? Why do you think it took so long for Poppy and Alex to truly “find” each other?
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