Audiobook Review: People We Meet on Vacation

Published May 11th 2021

Author: Emily Henry

Narrator: Julia Whelan

Audiobook Length: 10 hours 46 minutes

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 share 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.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong? 

After the amazing read that was Beach Read, I was excited to read Emily Henry’s next work. This novel has two versions with different titles, People We Meet on Vacation and You and Me on Vacation, so the one you read will depend on your source (US, UK, etc.). Personally, I prefer the UK title, You and Me on Vacation a little more as it focuses on the fact that this story is about the two main characters and how their time on vacation together drives the story. While the pair do meet other people while on vacation, I did not think it was enough to alter the title. Since Beach Read was such an incredible novel, I did go into this with high expectations. I think that is why it was a little disappointing as it was excellent, but I was not quite as invested in the characters potentially becoming a couple.

Poppy and Alex have been best friends for over ten years. They would go on vacation together at least once a year until an incident between them two years ago caused a falling out. As a travel blogger, Poppy is always presented with new opportunities to go on many trips around the world. In her current life, Poppy is feeling restless and she begins to reminisce about the great memories she had in her travels with Alex. She contacts Alex and the two of them agree to meet again on a trip to Palm Springs, California. Although they are interested in becoming reacquainted, they are faced with many obstacles in their vacation house from hell, including a potentially broken air conditioner. I extremely sympathized with them for this situation, but I would not have taken it in stride. If it is 90+ in the house and temperatures in Palm Springs can easily reach 120 in the summer, there is no way I would not prioritize getting a refund and relocating as heat illness prevention should be a priority. I digress about this part, as it did not affect my rating.

The story starts in present day before going back to their first meeting. The chapters switch back and forth between present day and the past. The historical timelines move forward year by year until the reader gets the full story about the incident that tore the characters apart. There is a lot of buildup leading to the reveal of what happened two years ago in Croatia. For me, it was built-up too much so when the reveal actually happens it is a letdown. I could understand how a falling out could potentially happen, but I just expected a lot more. The flashback sequences showing the fun that the two of them had on vacations was fun, but their travel adventures were nothing special. They had amazing times together, but it is written in a way that the two of them could have hung out by themselves and still had an amazing time. It was difficult to comprehend Poppy as a travel blogger who loves to travel everywhere, as it seemed from the start that Alex was the reason and not the actual places. It seemed that she could be the type to check each location off a fictional list, instead of having wanderlust to explore the world. For me, I would have loved a little more to illustrate her love of travel that she would make it a career.

Additionally to the romance brewing between the two friends, there is Poppy’s backstory that is explored, including childhood bullying. For me, this needed a lot more exploration to connect to as it seemed odd that Poppy would be reluctant to return to her hometown. This whole aspect of the story just needed more as it tended to become lost within the back and forth between the travel flashbacks and the present time with Alex and Poppy trying to reconnect. Alex and Poppy’s friendship was the shining light in this story as I loved how they are opposites (Alex is more reserved and Poppy is more outgoing) yet they fit incredibly well together. They were very supportive with each other and had excellent communication (incident in Croatia aside). It was refreshing to have two characters that had a very balanced friendship and how they were nervous about acting on any romantic feelings for fear of ruining the friendship.

Overall, as previously stated, the friendship between Alex and Poppy was a true gem. It was effortless as they were well balanced. I liked that they were not always perfect is what they said and did as it made their friendship extremely relatable. They also had great romantic chemistry, although, I would have liked a little more build up. As it stands, I am fully in support of them as lasting friends, but I just needed a little more to become fully invested in them as a romantic couple. I think putting in a little more build up would have helped, for me. It is written throughout the flashbacks, but I just wanted a little more. Overall, this was an enjoyable and sweet friends to romance story. I continue to be a fan of Emily Henry’s works and I would love to see what she comes up with the in the future.

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