Alex and Poppy and Rihanna: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

My kids know they can never go wrong giving me a book for Christmas. In fact, I think my middle enjoys it the most, often finding me a classic paperback that I’ve never heard of, or introducing me to a new author.

In this case it was the latter — while I’d seen Emily Henry’s books before (and may even have another one somewhere in my TBR pile) I’d never read one. So I remedied that with 2021’s “People We Meet on Vacation,” a will-they/won’t they dramedy set in modern day Ohio and New York City …. and a dozen or so vacation locales over the course of 10-ish years.

Alex and Poppy aren’t exactly star-crossed lovers. In fact, they are barely friends at first. One is straight-laced and subtly uptight, the other is chaos personified. But thanks to the realization they come from the same town, a college commute home kicks off a long and close friendship that sometimes teeters into something more.

The POV is strictly Poppy’s, which is a little bit of a shame because it would have been interesting to get Alex’s take throughout the book instead of waiting until the end, but I understand the purpose for it. Also? She’s a little extra when it comes to pretty much everything, so it only makes sense that she’s the narrator.

Marking each passing year with a summer trip that Poppy has parlayed into the job she always wanted, the two love and support one another through various ups and downs in their personal lives, but never cross the line until they globetrot their way to Croatia. An awkward hookup turns into nearly two years of near silence, when Poppy takes it upon herself to confront the one thing she is missing the most.

You may read this and NOT hear Rihanna’s “We Found Love” in the background, but Henry’s depiction of a Palm Springs summer has me thinking there are a million other places I’d like to visit first. In a good way, of course.

This was a great book to follow up the apocalyptic behemoth “The Deluge” — warm, funny and heartfelt. If you are looking for something gentle, forgiving and lotsa romantic, you can’t go wrong with this one. Enjoy!

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