Wednesday, May 24, 2023

May Read: Happy Place by Emily Henry


I finished the latest from Emily Henry a few days ago and I've given myself a few days to mull it over. There will definitely be those who absolutely love and adore this novel, and some, like me, who are "meh" about it. 

Happy Place takes place over a week's time in Knott's Harbor, Maine. A group of six friends gather for their yearly vacation at a beach cottage in this tourist-friendly town. The six friends: Sabrina, Cleo, Kimmy, Harriet, Wyn, and Parth have made this a tradition, but this year is a bit different: the cottage is being sold by Sabrina's wealthy father, and this will be their last year to relive their college and post-college memories of summers in Maine. 

The kicker here: Harriet and Wyn. They've been together for seven years, and madly in love. Only problem is they broke up six months ago, and didn't tell anyone. Sabrina surprises Harriet by inviting Wyn for the week, and then surprises the whole group with the news that her and Parth are getting married. That week. In Maine. With only their closest friends. So Harriet and Wyn decide they've got to pretend they're still together. Which may very well destroy both of them before the week's out. 

The novel bounces back and forth between "Real Life" during the week, and the past-starting with Wyn and Harriet meeting, and the evolution of their relationship. Let's be clear here--these two LOVE each other. Passionately. Their chemistry is pretty darn apparent, and well written. Wyn can't keep his hands off Harriet, even after all this time. So why did they break up? You never quite get the answer until well into the novel, and it's kind of a blah reason. I expected something more because these two are clearly devastated they are no longer together, but don't know how to communicate to each other to fix it. Mental health is one of the themes of the novel, and I do appreciate that it is brought up and discussed. 

Harriet explores her memories of their relationship, and her desire to please her parents by continuing her focus on becoming a brain surgeon. But is it really what she wants? Is it keeping her and Wyn apart? And Wyn--he's pretty quiet so it's hard to figure out just why he broke things off with Harriet. He needs to be a bit more open and communicate. UGH! Communication!! 

This novel is also about people growing up. Stepping away from college years and into adulthood and all that it demands. It can find all of us making choices and sometimes growing apart as life takes us in different directions. It can be painful and, yes, sometimes hurtful to friends who aren't quite ready to move on. 

I did feel like an intrusive guest sometimes reading this novel-like the extra body that doesn't quite fit in with the close group of friends. I was frustrated with Wyn and Harriet. A couple of good conversations would have cleared up their mess pretty quickly, but instead they mooned over each other and made each other miserable. The other friends all have their own dynamics and issues, too. I was pleased with the ending, though, so I'm glad I stuck it out. 

Rating: 3/6 for a summer read about a painful breakup and how to get back to each other. Harriet's a strong character, but heck woman, speak up! And Wyn? you're a gorgeous man, but dang it all, make an effort for the woman you love! Sheesh. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

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