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REVIEW: You and Me On Vacation by Emily Henry

“Ninety-five percent of the time, I see Alex Nilsen in a purely platonic way, and I'd guess his number hovers a bit higher. But for that other five percent of the time, there’s this what-if.” (Pg. 73)

I'm starting 2022 with a bang and going straight in with a review for a book that I absolutely loved. January is a depressing month of rainy weather and no plans, so what could be better than a summer romance novel?

For best friends Alex and Poppy, vacationing together is their 'thing'. Each year since they met, 12 years ago, Alex and Poppy have travelled far and wide, making amazing memories on the way. But as life tests their friendship; relationships, distance, and the mutual attraction that they desperately try to ignore, their friendship becomes rocky, eventually burning out to nothing.

After two years apart, this summer’s trip is their last chance to patch things up. But could this be more than friendship? Or will it end their friendship for good?

“We tell each other everything, but there are some things that can't be unsaid, just like there are things that couldn't be undone.” (Pg. 234)

This book has all the ingredients for me to fall head over heels for it: summer sun, two characters with amazing chemistry, a narrative that flicks between the past and present, and plenty of sexual tension. If you read my review of Beth O'Leary's The Road Trip, this book is very similar, and I absolute devoured it.

Let's start off with the characters. Emily Henry has written two gorgeous characters that you can't help but root for. The story is told entirely from the perspective of Poppy, and she is bubbly, full of personality and quirks, and has a witty narrative voice that is joyful to read. Alex is presented as quieter than Poppy and is incredibly caring, but also totally swoon-worthy. These are two characters I really cared about, and I can picture them very vividly in my mind (a film version pls?), which is a testament to Henry's writing ability.

The story itself unfolds in both past and present, with chapters alternating between the present holiday that Alex and Poppy are on, and holidays of their past. We are able to see how they met, their core memories together, and the events in life that have brought them to where they are today. This gives a really well-rounded view of their friendship and of the characters as individuals. I'm a big fan of the 'show, don't tell' rule, and this device always works well to do this.

One thing that reviewers constantly celebrate from Henry's writing, and rightly so, is how she writes sexual tension. As her main characters are best friends, Henry builds up tension in such an exciting way, with the two characters unsure of whether they should cross that line.

“Ten years of friendship flushed down the drain just so I could know what Alex Nilsen tastes like.” (Pg. 326)

Henry is tantalising for putting her characters in awkward situations and seeing what they will do (hint: there's broken air conditioning involved...).

Overall, I loved this book in all aspects. It is compulsive, tender, and sizzling all at once. Emily Henry, you've won me over.

Thanks for reading!

Kate x

More quotes that stood out to me:

  • “As long as I have him, I will never be alone again.” (Pg. 182)

  • “You asked me who I was, and–it was like the answer came out of nowhere. Sometimes it feels like I didn't exist before that. Like you invented me.” (Pg. 219)

  • “We’re magnets, trying to draw together even as we cradle the careful distance between us.” (Pg. 235)

  • “You can love someone and still know the future you’d have with them wouldn’t work for you, or for them, or maybe even both of you.” (Pg. 278)

  • “Vacations always end.” (311)

  • “You can’t outrun yourself. Not your history, not your fears, not the parts of yourself you’re worried are wrong.” (pg. 335)

  • “I didn’t know regular life could feel like this, like a vacation you don't have to go home from.” (Pg. 357)

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