In Happy Place by Emily Henry, Harriet and Wyn have been together since they met in college, and have been a perfect match ever since. At least, that’s what their friends think when they all meet up for their yearly weeklong getaway in Maine. What their friends don’t know is that Harriet and Wyn broke up five months ago, and told no one. Now, unexpectedly pushed back together, they have to either pretend to still be together, or come clean—but coming clean becomes more complicated when two of their friends announce that this week is also a surprise wedding. Not wanting to upset the peace, Harriet and Wyn agree to fake it… but soon aren’t sure how much is a lie, and how much is still true desire and love.
I’ve read a couple of Emily Henry’s books before, and this one was fun like the others!
I liked Harriet and Wyn as protagonists, and their group of friends rounds out a solid cast. It’s also really sweet to see the way they all interact. Books that celebrate platonic relationships on the same level as romantic ones are few and far between, but luckily this one does a good job showing just how strong and important that sort of love is. I really liked the scenes that highlighted how Harriet, Sabrina, and Cleo feel for each other after knowing one another so long, and the way their friendship’s complexity was shown throughout the book was great.
The other underlying theme about how Harriet’s and Wyn’s parents affected their kids’ relationships and lives in general was excellent. Henry clearly thought deeply about how different upbringings can influence someone into adulthood, and watching Harriet and Wyn’s interactions was great. There was an especially good scene between them where Harriet talks about her complicated feelings toward her parents, and it’s pretty touching.
Related to this, the flashbacks showing how the two leads got here were wonderful. It’s intriguing to see the contrast between how they used to be while knowing where they end up, and gives insight into why their relationship is struggling. The nonlinear narrative might not work for everyone, but I like that kind of structure when it’s done well—which it is here.
On another note, the audiobook version of this (narrated by Julia Whelan) is stellar. I have listened to a couple books by this narrator, and she is great in all of them. I have gotten to the point where I have to speed up every single audiobook I listen to, but that is not a criticism of her performance. This would be an excellent book to take traveling.
In the end, Happy Place is a lovely book. The characters are solid, the themes emotional and nuanced, and there’s plenty of humor and kindness. It’s not the most complex or groundbreaking story, but it’s more than competently told, and is an easy book to recommend to many people.
Content note: There is some sexual content, and a scene where several characters get high on weed gummies.Happy Place will be published on April 25th, 2023!