Book Reviews

People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry | Book Review

People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry | Book Review People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry
Genres: Fiction, American Literature
Original Publication Date: 2021
Source: I borrowed this book from the library.
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three-half-stars

People We Meet On Vacation: Two best friends. Ten summer trips. One last chance to fall in love. 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 ride 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.

People We Meet On Vacation Is a Romance Novel

This book is clearly inspired by the 1989 film When Harry Met Sally. It starts at the University of Chicago and takes place over many years, just like the film does.

I really wanted to read this, since When Harry Met Sally is one of my favorite films.

Poppy and Alex meet each other for the first time as freshmen in college:

The first night of orientation at the University of Chicago, I spot him. He’s dressed in khaki pants and a U of Chicago T-shirt, despise having been at this school for all of ten hours. He looks nothing like the sort of artistic intelligentsia I imagined befriending when I chose a school in the city.

Their first meeting is not promising. They are very different people. Alex is tall and intellectual. Poppy is short and likes partying more than studying.

They find out that they come from neighboring towns in Ohio. Alex loves his hometown, but Poppy couldn’t wait to get out.

After their disastrous first meeting, they occasionally see each other around campus, but they don’t speak until the day after their freshman year ends.

Poppy’s roommate arranges for Alex to drive Poppy back to Ohio. It is awkward at first. He doesn’t like the music she likes.

Poppy comes from a loud, messy, but happy family.

Alex’s family life is very different. His mother died when he was very young, and his father couldn’t handle his grief. Alex ended up taking care of his younger brothers.

Eventually they become good friends. She has her boyfriends, and he has his girlfriends.

People We Meet On Vacation

Wanderlust

Poppy eventually drops out of college, while Alex eventually goes to graduate school so he can teach.

She works at a bar so she can spend her money doing what she REALLY wants to do – travel all around the United States and the world on her vacations.

Alex becomes a teacher, but he also wants to do some traveling during his summer vacations.

Poppy eventually gets a dream job writing for a fancy travel magazine in New York. She is able to travel for free and even bring a guest.

She starts bringing Alex with her on her trips during his summer breaks, and they gradually form a true bond. Most of the book consists of these chapters dedicated to their different trips, which go back and forth in time.

Vacation When Harry Met Sally

Unspoken Feelings

Even from the beginning of the book, there are unspoken feelings between Poppy and Alex. They don’t really want to face it, because they figure that they want very different things in life so that it can never work.

While he enjoys traveling during his summer vacations, Alex is perfectly happy staying in his hometown the rest of his life. Poppy wants to see the world.

They really bond over their experiences traveling together. They have wonderful and unforgettable experiences while traveling to different places while on vacation.

At one point, however, they have a falling out on a disastrous trip to Croatia. They had brought their respective partners on the trip, which turns out to be a very bad idea.

They don’t see each other for two years. This is devastating for both of them.

But at one point, Poppy knows they need to reconnect. Perhaps they will find out how they truly feel about each other.

She starts texting Alex, and eventually they end up in Palm Springs together. Alex’s brother is marrying his partner, and Poppy knows finally that something has to give. She knows that she cannot deny her love for Alex any longer.

Final Analysis

This may be petty, but Poppy doesn’t seem like the type of person who would go to the University of Chicago, which is notoriously an intellectual school.

It is a very difficult school to get into, and seems to attract people who love to study.

But the characters in When Harry Met Sally went there, and this novel is so obviously based on that movie.

I do find the alternating chapters a bit confusing. They do not go in chronological order. They go back and forth between each vacation, going backward and forward in time.

At least in When Harry Met Sally, the film goes in chronological order.

However, I did like this book and wanted to see to read it to the inevitable conclusion.

Please also read my review of Me Before You, another novel about mismatched soulmates.

You may also want to read my review of Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Thank you for reading The Literary Lioness!

About Emily Henry

Emily Henry writes stories about love and family for both teens and adults. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the now-defunct New York Center for Art & Media Studies and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it.

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I love books, writing, film, and television.

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