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?
I’m not going to lie – this was an emotional read. It took me a few days to finally get past the first 20% of the book because it made me feel so much. I was so anxious because from the first page you KNOW something bad happened between Poppy and Alex but you have no idea what. The story was smartly paced, and alternating between the present and all of Poppy and Alex’s vacations allowed us to grasp how their relationship grew and developed over the years. Now, in the present, we’re two years after Poppy and Alex’s last vacation; two years after they last talked; and Poppy has the brilliant (or maybe terrible) idea of reaching out to invite him for a low-budget vacation, just like they used to. The way Poppy yearned for Alex broke my heart – the pain was almost tangible, and I just wanted to hug her and tell her that everything would be alright. But… would it?
You know that old saying that time doesn’t matter to the greatest of friends? That you can spend so much time away from them, but once you see each other again, things will be the same as it used to? That’s what Poppy is desperate for, before that ill-fated final trip happened. But this isn’t the case for Poppy and Alex. They were so awkward with each other in the beginning, and to make matters worse, everything that can go wrong in this trip went wrong! Poppy and Alex of the past would have laughed and rolled with the punches, but they’re not the same people anymore, and this is the crux of the matter – time passed, they were apart, they grew without each other, they experienced important things without each other. As much as Poppy wants to avoid the past, it’s obvious that she and Alex have to deal with what happened. They can’t just gloss over it and fit right next to each other like everything is a-okay.
When I started this book, one of the pressing questions I had is me wondering whether this was a romance. And to everyone wondering? YES, this is very much a romance! The romance between Poppy and Alex is very slow burn, literally spanning years and continents, and left catastrophe (and hurt exes) in its wake. It’s very complicated, but also realistic, which I appreciated. They start of as friends, and of course, a friendship evolving into a romantic relationship is never straightforward. There was so much angst and tension! Poppy and Alex went through so much pain and misunderstandings in trying to preserve their friendship in spite of deeper burgeoning feelings, and I don’t think I’m alone when in tearing up when they finally realized that maybe, just maybe, they can be happy together. They are so good for each other and happy Poppy and Alex is literally everything I ever needed!
All in all, People We Meet on Vacation is already a 2021 all-time favorite. Henry expertly weaved an engrossing romance between two people who belong together, but have no idea. I also enjoyed that other than Poppy and Alex facing the future of their relationship, they have their own personal struggles to go through. It made the story just that more well-rounded. This book has made me a Emily Henry fan, and I cannot wait to read her next book!