Perkins, Stephanie Isla and the Happily Ever After, 339 pgs. Dutton Books (Penguin Group), 2014. Language - PG-13 (70 swears, 5 "f"), Sexual Content - PG-13; Violence - PG;
Isla has her best friend Kurt, top-of-the-class grades, and a crush on Josh Wasserstein. This is what defines her until she finally has a conversation with Josh the summer before their senior year. Granted, it was a conversation Isla doesn't really remember because she was high on Vicodin after her surgery, but still. This could be her in--and, if she's lucky, this "in" will lead to dreams coming true. Yes, this is definitely the cute story every high school (or middle school or college) girl daydreams of even though we realize this is not reality.
While that surface story is great, I love that another thread emerges further on: the story of Isla finding Isla. Isla was alive but not living. If you don't love yourself, it's difficult to love and be loved in any relationship. In this glimpse of Isla's life, the importance of living and loving is illustrated. Risks make being alive worth it, and, along the way, risks and living helps one discover who one truly is--someone amazing who can love and be loved. The biggest downside was the sexual content, and while it wasn't graphic it was frequent enough to take away from my enjoyment of the story. (Also, this is technically the third of a series, but they are more like companions and you don't have to read the first two in order to understand what is going on in this one.)
HS - OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen