Book Review: You and Me on Vacation

Emily Henry

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 8th July 2021
spoilers? no



12 SUMMERS AGO: Poppy and Alex meet. They hate each other, and are pretty confident they’ll never speak again.

11 SUMMERS AGO: They’re forced to share a ride home from college and by the end of it a friendship is formed. And a pact: every year, one vacation together.

10 SUMMERS AGO: Alex discovers his fear of flying on the way to Vancouver.
Poppy holds his hand the whole way.

7 SUMMERS AGO: They get far too drunk and narrowly avoid getting matching tattoos in New Orleans.

2 SUMMERS AGO: It all goes wrong.

THIS SUMMER: Poppy asks Alex to join her on one last trip. A trip that will determine the rest of their lives.

You and Me on Vacation is a love story for fans of When Harry Met Sally and One Day. Get ready to travel the world, snort with laughter and – most of all – lose your heart to Poppy and Alex.

Galley provided by publisher

After loving Beach Read last year, I had high hopes for You and Me on Vacation. This sounds like a setup to say it disappointed me — it’s not, I promise. It would be fair to say Beach Read is still my favourite of the two, but I loved You and Me on Vacation as well.

The story follows parallel timelines: the present, where Alex and Poppy’s relationship has been somewhat broken since some event on a trip to Croatia (you can probably easily guess what event that may be, but in the interests of no spoilers, I’m keeping schtum), and at various times across the preceding 12 years. In the present, Poppy is stuck in a rut in her job writing about vacations for a magazine, so she decides that what she needs to do is go back to the start: on a simple vacation with Alex.

Friends to lovers is one of my favourite tropes and this book did that to perfection. We get to see the build of Alex and Poppy’s friendship in the past, contrasted with their current relationship, a little bit fragile and each of them treading carefully. It’s an excellent way of establishing the bond they have while still growing them towards a romance, so I loved how that was done here.

As with Beach Read, the main two characters are also surrounded by a great cast. And they’re all characters you find yourself easily wanting to root for and read more of, both main and otherwise. Of course, Poppy and Alex are the most fleshed out of them — not a surprise given that most of the book involves scenes between them and only them — but the others do provide an interesting backdrop. Yes, the girlfriends and boyfriends who aren’t Poppy or Alex do sometimes come across a little flat and un-nuanced, but some of that is just because it’s Poppy’s POV.

I think the only issue I did have with this book would be in the third-act break-up. I really really don’t like third-act break-ups, particularly those which aren’t consistent with characterisation, and I do sort of feel like this was one of those. Especially since, to all intents and purposes, both characters had professed their love for one another, so the angst precipitating a break-up seemed to come out of nowhere. I think that’s the reason I’d give this book 4 stars instead of 5. For a bit, it did feel like a 5-star book. Until this.

But if you enjoyed Beach Read or you’re looking for another romance to get your teeth into, this is definitely one to look forward to.

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