In brief: Poppy and Alex have always taken a summer trip together until two summers ago, when things changed. Can one last trip make things better?
The good: I enjoyed the back and forth between the past and the present.
The not-so-good: I couldn’t make time to sit down and read this all day!
Why I chose it: Enjoyed Beach Read. Thanks to Penguin for the copy.
Setting: America (New York and Ohio), plus many overseas trips
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
You and Me on Vacation (also known as People We Meet on Vacation) has the kind of fun cover that adds cheer to a rainy winter. Combined with many overseas trips and travel, it creates the kind of wanderlust that many of us are dreaming of. It’s also a fun story of a enemies-to-friends-to-lovers romance with loads of hilarious moments. In summary, it’s a funny, smart light read that ticks all the boxes.
Told in alternating between the past and the present, both the characters and plot have loads of charm. Poppy is vivacious, with a big personality, funky dress sense and dreams of travel far away from the small town that made her feel like an outsider. Alex is the exact opposite – he’s quiet and steady so that others can lean on him (which they do). When they first meet at university, they don’t get along. Alex is too quiet and to Poppy, judgmental. He reminds her of her past – even more so when she finds out that they are from the same small town. Forced to share a ride home after college, Alex and Poppy discover that their first impressions were wrong and strike up a friendship. Each summer, they travel somewhere together as friends. Sometimes it’s on a super budget, but as they grow older (and Poppy gets a job for a travel magazine), the trips become bigger and more adventurous. But in Italy, things changed a lot. Now Poppy and Alex barely text, let alone speak. That’s not what Poppy wanted, so she decides to try one last trip the old-school way – Palm Springs, on a budget in the middle of summer. Can they get back to the way it was?
Even though the timeline jumps back and forth almost constantly in the novel, it all fits together really well because of the focus on the relationship between Poppy and Alex. The characters have great chemistry, history and the dialogue between them is witty and heartfelt. The trips the pair take together are just the icing on the cake. It’s lovely to read as Alex and Poppy grow up and start dealing with adult stuff, and try to maintain their friendship amongst other significant others, jobs and homes. It feels quite realistic but also has that over-the-top vacation feel where everything is felt 100 times more. It’s easy to read and if you need to put it down (like for work) it’s simple to remember where you left off. Henry is becoming the master of angst and tension between characters and the friction between Alex and Poppy sizzles in the Palm Springs summer. It’s also well written, without making Poppy’s OTT traits too out there or caricatures of any of the characters. It’s fun, but definitely not cheesy. I enjoyed this much more than Beach Read and I’m looking forward to what Emily Henry hits us with next, as I’m sure it will be fantastic.