Welcome to the Golden Eagles! As we return from warm sunny places to our cold tundra (which is slowly but surely warming up), I wanted to share with you a novel that will help us acclimate to the Midwest life, while filling the void that those wonderful palm trees and blue oceans have left in our hearts.
“The People We Meet on Vacation” is a 2021 romance novel by Emily Henry. The novel is a fan favorite on Goodreads, winning Best book of 2021 in the Romance category.
The plot is as follows: Alex and Poppy have nothing in common. She’s a wild child, always on the lookout for the latest and craziest adventures. He prefers to stay home with a book and stay in his comfort zone. Despite the big differences, they are best friends thanks to a car ride from college years ago.
For most of the year, they live far from each other. Poppy lives in New York working for a travel magazine, while Alex is in their small hometown teaching at their old high school – but every summer for a decade they’ve taken a wonderful week’s vacation together.
Until two years ago, when they screwed it up. They haven’t spoken since.
Poppy has everything she should want: a great job, a boyfriend, a nice apartment, but she’s not satisfied. When she reflects on when she was happiest, she knows it was that last trip with Alex. She decides to fix their relationship and convinces her best friend to take another vacation together. She wants them to put everything on the table. Miraculously, he accepts.
She now has a week to make up for two years of regrets. There’s only one problem: she has to address the huge unrequited truth that stands between them. What could go wrong?
Review and assessment:
Starting with the plot I have to say this my friends-the lovers trope is very well done. The novel establishes that Alex and Poppy are very different and even when they do meet, it’s not so much an instant connection as a slow burn. As a reader, I was screaming for the two to come together already with every stolen look or lingering touch.
With each chapter, you really feel the romantic tension building. The novel moves from their current vacation to their previous one. That being said, this romantic tension builds over the course of a decade, which seems a bit too long to me. But again, there’s something to be said for unrequited love, especially between friends.
The plot was a bit like fanfiction, which is fine, but I felt like I could log onto Wattpad or Archive of Our Own and read a similar story for free. But what the internet can provide for free lacks the attention to detail and budding romance that Henry writes.
Characters Poppy and Alex were created in their own way. I didn’t like Poppy’s character writing. Her story is that she dropped out of college but managed to land a job at a prestigious travel magazine in New York, it was too weird for me. Also, I find the New York romance overdone. Writers, if you’re reading this, do a story in Chicago or Milwaukee, those cities need love too!
I identified with the character of Alex, and not just because he has an incredible name. He struggles, like Poppy, to find his place in the world. He returns to his small hometown in Ohio because it is a place of comfort. It further helps with his characteristic of someone who is more cautious and homebody.
This book wasn’t really my cup of tea, but it was still a cute, interesting, and quick read. It’s a perfect novel for snuggling up on the beach and helping to weather the blues after spring break.
I give Emily Henry’s “People We Meet on Vacation” three out of five stars.
This story was written by Alex Wagner. He can be reached at [email protected]