You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry – Book Review

Title: You and Me on Vacation (review copy)

Alternative Title: People We Meet on Vacation

Author: Emily Henry

Genre/Themes: Romantic Comedy, Contemporary, Light Fiction, Friends to Lovers

Blurb from Goodreads

TWO FRIENDS

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.

My Review

You and Me on Vacation” is somewhat of an homage to what is considered one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time “When Harry Met Sally”.

I love romantic comedies. My absolute favourite genre when it comes to both films and books. For years rom coms were pretty much the only type of film I’d watch and probably accounted for at least half the novels I read because to me they’ve always been comfortably reassuring.

But lately that love has waned and I don’t quite know why. Instead of being emotionally fraught by the inevitable obstacle that breaks up the cute couple around 75% through the book or film I instead roll my eyes at the pointlessness of this drama because we all know there’s going to be a happy ever after… and I think I’m tired of happy every after. Life isn’t like that. I’m finding less and less that I can escape into the world of the romantic comedy because the heaviness of the real world has encroached too much upon my soul.

You and Me on Vacation is a perfectly great book.

In lead character Poppy we have someone who’s incredibly engaging and richly complex. And also has that much required dollop of rom com charm with a sprinkling of quirkiness to boot.

And in leading man Alex we have someone who’s quiet, reserved, deep thinking; the perfect foil to Poppy’s exuberance.

They meet at university, and much like Harry and Sally end up road tripping home together thus beginning their beautifully idiosyncratic friendship. They let themselves be free around each other. They don’t worry about what other people think. They just live for those moments they spend together. And those moments are every summer when they take a holiday together.

But somehow their friendship becomes too big. They don’t know who they are outside of it nor who they are within it. Poppy especially so.

And quietly at first there’s this buzzing sound in Poppy’s head. But she refuses to listen to it… but it gets stronger and stronger until she realises what it is saying. That she loves Alex. That he’s her person. And that somehow she has to find a way to keep him as a friend because anything further would just mess what they have up… or would it?

I can’t fault the novel too much. It’s well written, engaging plot, nicely moving pace of narrative, great characters… but I was left feeling hollow.

Some spoilers ahead but they’re mostly regarding romantic comedy tropes.

At the 70% mark Poppy and Alex got together. And I felt absolutely nothing. When the lead couple are finally brought together I usually fist pump the air but reading this I felt flat. (Also it was a little more explicit than I feel comfortable reading. I’m fairly prudish when it comes to reading sex scenes.) And I think it’s due to knowing this would go according to standard rom com tropes because there was a whole 30% more to come and it would be laden with melodrama that was sure to break them up.

And so it was.

And I just sat reading it dispassionately. It felt tedious and overwrought. Even when Poppy was trying to figure out what she wanted or needed from life to be happy. I just couldn’t find the engagement with her as a character. I was aching to be surprised. I was aching to have the author take some risks with the ending and spin the romantic comedy genre on its axis.

But she didn’t. And it didn’t.

It all ended up just according to plan. Which I guess is what 99% of readers want. Especially in these horrible times we are living through. People want that escapism. I do too… but I think I need some bitterness to temper the overall saccharine nature of these happy ever after endings because all this sweetness is giving me a tummy ache.

I feel bad to be marking this book down because I know it’s a book that will tick so many rom com boxes for people. Added to that I’m really only reading it now because it has languished unread on my NetGalley shelf for over a year and I just had to eventually find the energy to read it…

But ultimately this novel just wasn’t for me.

Dear book, it’s not your fault. It’s completely on me and I’m sorry about that. Hopefully some day in the future I will return to the writing of Emily Henry and find the spark that made me once fall in love with romantic comedies.

*An e-copy was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley for honest review*

  • Publication Date: 8th July 2021
  • Publisher: Penguin General U.K.

Other Works by Emily Henry I’ve Reviewed

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