When I finally got my copy after having pre-ordered it two months prior to release, my reaction was more or less this:
I even uploaded a picture on Instagram seconds after
And proceded to read with very high expectations, only to find a beginning that reminded me too much of Anna and the French Kiss where Isla's feelings towards Josh are concerned. Not that I, of all people, would not sympathize with the jealous-possessive-type of girl being one myself, but I feared that most of the novel would evolve around Isla's insecurities whenever Josh is in her presence.
Thankfully, I was wrong and Stephanie Perkins created a wonderful, bittersweet story of first love in that age when you don't really know who you are and where your life is headed to. Additionally, and this is personal, there were two things that totally stole my heart in this novel.
Number one is Isla and Josh's weekend in Barcelona. Being a native of said city, I find it amusing to read about it in novels because most native authors tend to set the action in very specific places and non-natives invariably talk about the Gaudí buildings (perfectly comprehensible, on the other hand). But in this particular case it had a special meaning for me because my translation into Spanish of Anna and the French Kiss and the presentation of the book was the reason why Stephanie Perkins travelled to Barcelona, and I can't express enough how much I regret not having been able to meet her.
Reason number two is kind of a SPOILER. Read at your own risk. Josh and Isla are separated for spoilery reasons related to their trip to Barcelona, so they keep their relationship in the distance. And being in a long-distance relationship myself right now, you'd be surprised how much I related to Isla and her insecurities and fears, and how much I cried in public while reading certain passages. (End of spoiler-ish paragraph)
Isla and the Happily Ever After is a sweet novel about first love, and through its pages, similarly to what happened wit her other two novels, you can tell that Perkins knows what it feels like to find the one, as she says in the acknowledgements page in the dedication to her husband. I think I said this in my review for Lola and the Boy Next Door, and it applies here as well: maybe The One is not who everybody considers "Mr. Perfect" to be, but he will be perfect for you. If that makes any sense.
If you're looking for a YA romance that feels real, this is for you. If you loved Anna... and Lola..., this is for you.
(On a side note, I really like the cover Neo Plataforma "created" for the Spanish edition so that it wouldn't clash with the other two, unlike the American and English editions).