Blurb: Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She's a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart--she's in New York City, and he's in their small hometown--but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.
Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven't spoken since.
Poppy has everything she should want, but she's stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together--lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.
Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?
Review: I know that Beach Read was received with mixed reviews. Some, like myself, enjoyed it. Others adored it. And still others are of the belief that it isn't technically a romance novel. I'm not here to debate the author's previous work, however, I just want it acknowledged that I found Beach Read to be enjoyable (though not quite dirty enough for my liking.)
I was absolutely astounded by how much I adored People We Met On Vacation. I fell in love with it from the very first word, cried a little bit in the middle, and mourned when my eyes scrawled across the end of the last page. It was an emotional rollercoaster and I loved every up and down, even as my heart got ripped out of my chest, stomped on, and revived a handful of times until I was clutching the book with white knuckles and muttering under my breath.
People We Meet On Vacation doesn't just flip back and forth between two timelines... it flips back and forth between like seven. Normally I hate flashbacks because my mind prefers to experience the relationship firmly in the present, but I cannot imagine this book written in any other way. It was an absolute gift that we were able to see the relationship between Poppy and Alex develop from the moment they meet, to the moment they realize they can be friends, to each of their annual trips and the present timeline. Henry's writing talent is evident in the way she manages to not only write it in such a way that the reader doesn't struggle to keep things straight and also in the way the character's relationship so clearly develops over the various timelines.
Poppy is a delightfully quirky heroine without being manic-pixie-dream-girl about it which was such a relief. You could tell that Henry just had a picture of her character in her mind and was writing it as she was seeing it rather than trying to stuff Poppy into society's vision of a not-like-other-girls heroine (which I know we are all so sick of). Alex is the uptight, stuffy hero that we all live for as romance readers. Though Alex isn't a total Grumpy McGrumpster, I'd still place this book in the grumpy/sunshine trope because no one is a better grump than our adorable, sick-cat-loving, high school teacher who had to grow up too fast too soon following the death of his mother.
You don't have to fabricate any chemistry between Alex and Poppy. It truly leaps off the page. I believed they were meant to be together from the very first interaction and I held on to that belief as the pages turned and the angst doubled down. It's a slow burn--you don't even get any action at all until about 70% of the way through--but god, as much as I dislike slow burns, the pain of the wait was soooo worth it. And I loved every step to their finally coming together. It was like a beautifully choreographed dance.
If you thought Beach Read was heart-wrenching you better grab some tissues and clear your schedule because you're going to be water work central. I clutched this book to my chest at the end and then immediately flipped back and reread my favorite scene. One of the reviews I read mentioned that this was the book that broke their reading slump and I cannot agree with that statement more. I was feeling a little blah about my TBR lately, but after reading People We Meet On Vacation I ended up flying to my bookshelf and reading a number of books that had been long awaiting my attention.
It's not out until May 11, 2021, but you absolutely need to pre-order this. Check out more reviews here.