Book Review: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Welcome, my fellow story lovers! 

In this post, I discuss a wildly popular modern day romcom, People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry. If you’d prefer to listen to this review, you can check out the full episode on The Bookmarks ‘n Blankets Podcast on your favorite podcast platform or listen below. (This is a spoiler-free post.)

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People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Published: May 2021
Genre: Contemporary Adult Romance | RomCom
GoodReads Winner for Best Romance (2021)
Language: R
Spice: R
Format: Paperback
My Rating: Leave It
My GR Rating: 3/5 ⭐ – But I would say this is 2.5 to 3 stars for me. I’m sure there is much better romcoms out there.

Book Synopsis:

Poppy’s life seems ideal: she has a great job, she has friends, she’s enjoying city life in NYC, but she feels like something is missing. She’s stuck in a rut. When she’s talking with her friend, she asks Poppy when was the last time she was happy. Poppy instantly thinks of her summer vacations with Alex. But something happened two years ago and they haven’t spoken to each other since. Wanting to mend their friendship and reconcile, Poppy contacts Alex and asks him if he would like to take a vacation with her, like the old days. He informs her that his brother is getting married and invites her out to the wedding. So now she has one week to fix everything and finally come clean about a big truth that she’s been keeping from him.

Overall Opinion:

This has been one of my biggest disappointments of the year. I had really, really high hopes for this one. I really thought it was going to be a five-star read for me. This author is a hugely beloved author that everyone raves on and on about her romance books. This specific book had so much hype around it, and the plot sounded exactly like what I would love. But this book fell so short of what I thought it would be. It felt too juvenile, immature, and dramatic. I could see younger people enjoying this book, especially those that have less experience in relationships. But as someone in her 40s and having been with my husband for almost 20 years, it really lacked maturity and emotional intelligence from the characters.

Book Details:

  • Length – I read the paperback version and it has 361 pages. The chapters could’ve been shorter but overall, they were decent length. But this entire story didn’t warrant such a long read. It was too long of a book, in my opinion. 
  • Writing Style – The pacing was slow and tiresome. It bordered on boring, and I kept wanting something to happen, which it never really did. The POV is from Poppy’s first person, but it would’ve been more interesting if it was a dual POV from both Poppy and Alex. But overall, the writing style was easy to read, descriptive, and immersive. 
  • Cover Art – It’s bright, cheery, colorful, and very summery. It’s pretty but I’m not the biggest fan of the illustrations of people.

What I Didn’t Like About It:

  • Disappointed that it wasn’t better, especially with all the hype around this book and the author, who is beloved in the book community. It felt pretty flat for me and was pretty boring. 
  • Poppy rubbed me the wrong way from the very beginning. She’s rude, loud, and obnoxious. Then we got to know her better and she became a little bit more tolerable, but then toward the end, I was rubbed the wrong way again. For most of the book, I thought she was too self-absorbed and selfish, which was a turnoff for me. She didn’t think about how her actions and behaviors affected other people, especially Alex. But by the very end, when she finally had her epiphany, I felt more compassion and empathy toward her. Overall, not my favorite character. 
  • Extremely predictable. Read like a typical romcom. I can see this being made into a movie. But I wanted a unique twist on a standard romcom, which we didn’t get. I guess I was expecting more creativity, but this was just mediocre. 
  • Not a lot happened. I wanted more conflict or action to keep me entertained. I know this is more character-driven, than plot-driven, but the plot could’ve been more interesting and had a little more action. 
  • For a romcom, it felt very serious and heavy after I read it. I expected it to be more light-hearted, cute, and whimsical. After reading this book, I felt so weighed down from it that I picked up a middle grade graphic novel as a palette cleanser. 
  • I liked the quick-witted, funny banter between Poppy and Alex…until I didn’t. I get that that is their schtick – making jokes, teasing each other, being sarcastic, having witty comebacks. At first, I enjoyed it and thought it was funny, but then it got tiring and tedious. I wondered if they were ever serious with each other. They just joked too much for me. It’s not how normal people or couples talk to each other or have conversations. I think the banter was taken too far. Or maybe, it’s their immaturity as millennials. I found myself chiding them because they are so much younger than me. 
  • No communication between Poppy and Alex. They are supposed to be in their late twenties or early thirties, but they don’t know how to talk to each other and express their feelings. They felt very immature. 
  • Going back and forth between the past and the present was annoying. It took me out of the story at times. I like to be able to put a book down, and then pick it back up and keep going, but I found myself having to backtrack to remember what happened previously. 
  • It was such a slow build-up for a disappointing resolve. I expected the reason they stopped being friends to be something dramatic and unforgivable, but the reason turned out to be rather silly and anticlimactic. It really was so stupid!
  • I got annoyed by some of the repetition. For example, it was pounded into our heads how short and small Poppy was compared to Alex. And that Alex makes this Sad Puppy Face. There were also a lot of romance cliches that were just tedious and boring. 
  • There is quite a bit of foul language, which I don’t care for, and the sex scene is pretty graphic. Not that I’m a prude because I’ve read erotica, not that that scene was erotica, but I guess I wasn’t expecting so much spice in a romcom book.
  • This book is definitely left-leaning with some content in it. I didn’t feel like the author was pushing an agenda, but I was still able to notice it. I did appreciate the subtleness of these progressive messages, but the fact that they were in the book was annoying. As someone who leans more conservative, it was very obvious to spot. But someone who thinks on that side of the aisle probably wouldn’t notice them.

What I Liked About It:

  • I liked the homage to one of my favorite romcom movies, When Harry Met Sally. Poppy and Alex meet in college, and then drive back home together (pretty much the same premise as the movie). 
  • I enjoyed their relationship and chemistry, especially watching it grow over time through their summer trips together. You could tell that they really loved each other, felt comfortable with one another, could be themselves around the other, and cared a lot about their relationship. It reminded me of my relationship with my husband.
    • I’m not sure if I’m a fan of the friends to lovers trope yet, but this one didn’t quite do it for me, but it wasn’t bad. 
  • I enjoyed the 80s and 90s pop culture references sprinkled throughout the story. 
  • I liked the different vacations they went on each summer. They were fun, though I wish we explored more of those trips to get an even deeper look at their relationship. 
  • I appreciated the attempt at self-realization and self-acceptance toward the end of the book, but for me, it wasn’t enough to redeem the character. But I was glad to see a little growth and character development. It just wasn’t enough for me. 
  • There were some pretty funny moments and I even laughed out loud. There was definitely some good witty, humorous banter. 
  • Emily Henry did a great job of bringing the heavy topics to life and making them relatable to the reader. She wrote in layers and it was fun peeling each one back as we’re learning more about Poppy, Alex, and their relationship. It was honest and real.

Why You Should or Shouldn’t Read It:

You might like this if you enjoy:

  • Friends to lovers trope
  • Opposites attract
  • Second chance
  • Endless banter
  • Stories about traveling
  • Past/present timelines

Final Thoughts:

This book was really underwhelming for me. I found myself reading it just to finish it and wanting to know how it would end, which was a huge letdown. I’m new to romance books, but if they are like this one, then I may not be reading many more in this genre.

I’m really hesitant to read more by Emily Henry. The amount of foul language, graphic sex scenes, and progressive messages was surprising and really turned me off to her. At this time, I’m not interested in reading another one of her books, but I may change my mind in the future. She did not leave a good first impression on me.

If you’re interested in this book, you can purchase it here.

*Please note that I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program and a member of other affiliate programs. I may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made through links in this article.

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