Editorial note: I received a copy of People We Meet on Vacation in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry is an entertaining and sweet romance about two best friends.
I have to say, I’m already dreading all the literature inspired by the current pandemic. I don’t think we’ll see much of it this year but starting in 2022—be prepared. I think it’s tricky in a sense for contemporary authors, do you write a world where you pretend it never happened or do you strive for a sense of realism and tackle life during and after the pandemic? And who knows, maybe in 2022 and beyond, it won’t feel so hard to read about it because hopefully it’s long behind us.
I mention this because I personally found it so refreshing that People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry shows life pre-pandemic—one full of travel and exploration. As we are rounding a corner and life becomes back to normal, it’s a good reminder of the joy of travel. Overall, this is such a refreshing and fun read.
What’s the Story About
The author Emily Henry said her love for the When Harry Met Sally film inspired her to write a story about two platonic best friends who are actually in love with each other—they just won’t admit it to themselves and each other. While maybe not the most original concept, it’s still enjoyable.
The story follows Poppy and Alex. Two people who have nothing in common. She loves adventure and wearing clothes with loud colors while he’s pretty straight-laced and is all about the khakis. Poppy lives life in the moment and doesn’t think about the future while Alex tries to have his whole life mapped out. Still, despite all the differences they’ve been best friends since college. While she’s now in New York City and he’s still in their hometown in Ohio, they get together every year for one big trip.
But an incident two years ago forced the two to stop speaking.
When Poppy finds herself in a rut, she remembers the last time she was truly happy was with Alex. So she convinces him to go on one last trip to see if they can regain back their friendship and potentially much more.
Prior to the pandemic, I traveled a ton—both for my day job and for fun. I actually got to a point where I got real tired of airports, delayed flights, dealing with awkward Uber convos, hard hotel beds, etc. But now that I haven’t traveled since February 2020, I’m ready for a trip! So reading about all the different vacations that Poppy and Alex go on, was so nice! The author Emily Henry really provides a lot of details that make it feel authentic.
The story is told in two timelines. One is the present where Alex and Poppy take one last trip together. And the other is exploring the beginning of their friendship and then checking in on each trip they went on until it collides with present day. Sometimes I felt like the past trips (while fun to read about different places) distracted a bit from the present timeline. But that’s just a minor criticism.
The main timeline is when Alex and Poppy go to Palm Springs, CA in the middle of the summer to attend his brother’s wedding. I actually love that they went in the summer! I live in Phoenix and desert summers are no joke. So for people who aren’t accustomed to extreme heat (heck I’ve lived here for six years and still not used to it), it’s rough! All the details about dealing with insane hot heat is really entertaining.
While I enjoyed her previous novel Beach Read, the romance is a bit iffy in some regards. But not in this book. Although when you have two best friends who clearly love each other but don’t act on it, there’s always the believability issue. But I think she really portrayed how different they are but also just how missed opportunities kept getting in the way.
You know that this is a love story so you have an idea of how it ends but the joy of these stories is reading how they eventually come together.
This story is as refreshing as a fresh margarita on the beach (had to say it!). I highly recommend you add this one to your list, especially if you’ve been reading more heavy type stories. For book clubs, check out my questions here.