Happy Place by Emily Henry: One to Skip

Spoiler alert!


This book is by no means the perfect beach read; it made me want to throw it into the pool.

  As an avid fan of Emily Henry’s romance novels, I eagerly purchased the hardback cover (a big commitment due to the 28-30 dollar cost) of Henry’s newest release: Happy Place. The romance follows residency student Harriet, who is recently single after her 8 year relationship with ex-fiance Wyn ended. In this time of immense heartache, one of the few things holding Harriet together was her friend group’s summer trip to Sabrina’s Maine cottage, which Harriet, Cleo and Sabrina have been going to since they first became friends back in college. Though Harry hasn’t told her friends about the breakup, she is finally ready to break the news on this trip. However, Wyn ends up surprising her and shows up at the vacation house, much to Harriet’s horror. Sabrina and her boyfriend Parth practically forced him to come, so they could tell everybody their exciting news: Sabrina and Parth are getting married on this trip! While everyone is ecstatic over the news, Wyn and Harry know they can’t ruin the mood by admitting their breakup, so the two decide to fake-date until the wedding. It shouldn’t be too difficult, right? 

  Despite the promising premise, I ended up hating this book. The book is split by alternating past and present chapters, which made the two storylines choppy and incoherent. Harriet and Wyn are simply not an interesting couple; their characters were not complex or fully developed by the end of the novel. I found Wyn’s lack of personality especially bothersome. To quote the wise words of Amy Santiago, Wyn, “Ya boring”. His birthplace being Montana is his defining personality trait. I read the word “Montana” more in this single, 385 paged novel than I have ever read or heard it in my entire 17 years of existence.  

  The friend group within the novel was also extremely disappointing. I love the found-family trope in novels, but despite these friends having known each other for 10 years, they seem to know nothing about one another. Sabrina was intolerable, with her constant bickering and strict adherence to the schedule she made for her friends. The third act conflict was extremely frustrating to read, especially when you take into consideration that these characters are in their late 20s! They bickered like immature highschoolers the entire novel—I can only take so much!

  The novel’s resolution may have been worse than the entire book put together, which is a seemingly impossible feat. After spending about 12 years in the medical field (undergraduate years, Columbia medical school, two years in residency, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt) all in hopes of becoming a neurosurgeon, Harriet decides this isn’t the correct path for her. While it’s understandable to be unsure of your future profession in your 20s, Harriet has been working to become a neurosurgeon for 12 years. She had ample time to switch professions before devoting over a decade of work into such an intense field. Not only does Harriet stop studying to become a neurosurgeon, but she decides she will make her hobby of pottery her new job. Pottery? Are you serious? To make matters worse, when she gets back together with Wyn at the end of the novel (it is a second chance romance novel, what did you expect?), she decides to move to Montana with him. Not only is teaching pottery classes an unpopular profession, but doing it in the rural state of Montana is simply ridiculous. Have fun paying back years of debt Harry!

  If you didn’t get the message from my terrible, and at times hateful, review of Happy Place, here it is plain and simple: do not read this book! I loved Henry’s other adult romances (especially Beach Read), so I would recommend those instead. Sorry to burst your bubble if you were looking forward to Henry’s newest novel. If you enjoy irritating characters and absurd decisions, this book may be for you!