Okay so it turns out that this is the last in a trilogy of books by Stephanie Perkins, but as I was reading it for The Essential Autie Book List and the autistic character in question only features in this book, I decided to go ahead. In fact, it has made me more excited to read the previous two books which I hadn’t considered before! If you want to read them in order, start with Anna and the French Kiss, then Lola and the Boy Next Door.
Set to return to her Americans-in-Paris high school for her final year, Isla is unsure of what her future holds. That is until she stumbles into a diner in hometown New York whilst high on medication from dental surgery and lands in the lap of beautiful cartoonist Josh. Unfortunately, she remembers almost nothing that happened. Upon arriving back at school, she and Josh quickly grow a close romance, but the future threatens to tear them apart before they can truly begin.
In terms of autistic representation, Perkins does a great job here. Kurt, who is the best friend of Isla, is not just plain speaking, specific about timing and interested obsessively in tunnels, but he is a person with a clearly loving relation with his best friend Isla. Through Isla’s new friendships, we learn about her protectiveness of Kurt and the discrimination he has faced. It is truly heartwarming to read of such a caring, non-parental relationship between two friends.
The kids in this trilogy are absolutely drowning in privilege, which they actually acknowledge, but they are all so unbelievably charming and smart that you just let them get away with it.
As a standalone novel, it works well – you just get quite a bit of seemingly unnecessary detail that is actually about previous characters in the trilogy. Although it technically has revealed the ending of Anna and Lola‘s stories, I’m actually really excited to go back and read about them.
Isla and the Happily Ever After is a super-cute, swoony romance set in Paris, filled with clever and interesting characters.
Interested? Buy it here.
What to read next:
Thank you ever so much to Stevie at Usborne for sending me a copy of Isla to read for The Autie Book List.