** Warning: This review contains mild spoilers! **
Emily Henry’s latest rom-com novel, Happy Place, is her best yet. The author’s seventh novel is centered around a group of friends and the couples within the group. The main characters Harriet and Wyn recently ended their engagement and have been keeping this a secret from the group until both can find the “perfect” time to break the news.
Overworked and emotionally drained, Harriet is excited to see her long-time best friends Sabrina and Cleo at her happy place: Sabrina’s father’s cabin in Maine. Since the three met in college, they have been inseparable. All coming from homes where they felt neglected, Sabrina, Cleo, and Harriet made a family of one another. Harriet’s excitement to get a break from the hospital and spend quality time with her best friends is interrupted when she enters the cabin and sees her ex-fiancé, Wyn.
Taken aback, she is forced to smile and indulge her friends by seeming happy to see him. The pair, eager to get away from one another, are forced to sit amongst their friends pretending to be delighted at one another’s presence while Sabrina makes several announcements. One of them being that this would be the last hurrah at her father’s cabin before he sells it, and second: she is getting married the following weekend to Wyn’s best friend, Parth!
Dazed by the news, the former fiancés realize they cannot damper the mood by sharing their sad news, so they agree to act happily engaged and in love for the week. It is hilarious to read how the two navigate without being discovered by their friends. I was rooting for their love to reignite at every turn of the page. Their friendship and love for one another is realistic. It is not the “happily ever after” fairytale Disney tries to sell us. There were moments when I would get frustrated at them for the miscommunication written on the page, but the two could not get it right.
What I enjoyed about Happy Place is that it does not just focus on Wyn and Harriet, it highlights the friendships within the group. Emily Henry delves into the fractured relationships amongst the girls. The once tightly knit group have seemed to drift apart over the last year. You can feel their disconnect when Sabrina makes passive aggressive remarks toward Cleo for cancelling her stay at Cleo’s farm. You can read the pain Sabrina feels over the rejection, and the annoyance Cleo feels over the comments.
The pain amongst the three friends comes to a head when their secrets are exposed. The three have a blow out of sorts and the group, Kimmy (Cleo’s wife), Parth (Sabrina’s fiancé), and Wyn are left aghast. For the first time, the group seems unrepairable. You can feel sadness for the group. How did they let their friendships deteriorate?
This part of the book really resonated with me. It depicted the reality of friendships. Sometimes we are close as thieves and other times we are on opposite sides of the world. In any kind of relationship there is a struggle, a constant tug and pull between the people involved. You are integrating two different worlds, different sets of experiences, feelings, beliefs, etc. to develop a closeness with another human.
In recent months, I have reconnected with two friends that I thought would be friends of mine forever. It was my belief that nothing could ever happen that would cause us to be strangers, but it happened. And as you read in this book, the separation is rooted in misunderstandings and communication. In both friendships, there were instances of miscommunication that could have easily been resolved that resulted in the distance in those friendships. Fortunately, time helped all parties reflect and clear the air.
Happy Place is a beautiful book about friendship and the heartache we feel when we believe we are losing our connection with people we consider family. It is a book about the power of love and how sometimes we must lose ourselves to find ourselves again. It is about letting go of beliefs that no longer serve a purpose and proving that sometimes love is worth fighting for.
Photo Credit: Penguin Book Cover. Credit to the publisher, designer, and author, No copywrite intended.
Quoted text is a Mari Rey original.