Emily Henry has found her way to our hearts for a second time. Her previous New York Times bestseller Beach Read recounted an unlikely pair of writers on vacation. Following on from Beach Read’s success, we yet again find an unlikely friendship on vacation – although only one is a writer this time. Henry’s latest novel You and Me on Vacation (or People We Meet on Vacation in the US) has also, rightfully, earned a place on the New York Times bestseller list, and it should earn a place on your summer reading list too.
Unlikely friends turned (spoiler) lovers is a well-trodden plotline, but it’s clearly an area where Emily Henry thrives. Inspired by the classic When Harry met Sally, Poppy and Alex meet at college orientation week and become friends after they end up sharing a ride back to their hometown. Despite the pair’s clashing personalities, they spark a surprisingly close friendship.
Poppy is erratic, free-spirited, and illogical; Alex is organised, academic, and entirely logical. As Poppy drops out of college to pursue a successful career as a travel writer, Alex excels in his studies. Alex’s logical nature makes him the perfect travel partner for Poppy, and they make it a tradition to go on a yearly trip, but a falling out in Croatia has them not speaking to each other for two years. When Poppy is asked the last time she was happy, she instantly casts her mind back to her friendship with Alex, and what follows is an intense and wobbly reconnection and rebuilding of their relationship.
Emily Henry’s writing is funny, gripping, and heartbreaking as we follow Poppy and Alex’s relationship through a series of flashbacks. Each chapter swaps between the present day, where the pair are reunited at Alex’s brother’s wedding, and back to the beginning of their friendship. As the flashbacks catch up with the present, we really get into the context of their relationship and their complex, yet heart-warming backstory. The flicking back and forth between chapters is not as confusing as it sounds, and it’s easy to jump back into the rhythm of the novel.
The rom-com A side of this book is complemented by the adventurous B side. As we travel from cities to beaches all over the globe with Poppy and her best friend Alex, this base of the novel makes for dreamy beach reading. It gets better and better each year as their holidays grow from student-budget-friendly getaways to work vacations with all-expenses-paid as Poppy flourishes in her career in travel. Even still, Henry keeps the narrative relatable throughout the book as Poppy untangles issues such as career and family difficulties and forgiving the bullies from her childhood.
Both Poppy and Alex are extremely loveable characters with their own unique quirks and endearing traits. I believe, as humans, when we see two best friends of the opposite sex, we can’t help but wonder why they won’t get together. So, this novel follows a rather satisfying journey unpicking their friendship and Poppy’s intense and confused feelings towards Alex. It is everything a rom-com needs to be: a perfect and beautiful read for this summer.
Pre-order your own copy of You and Me on Vacation here.