happy place book review

Happy Place by Emily Henry: Book Review

📖 GenreRomance, Adult, Comedy
📃 Number of Pages400 pages
🪴 Average Goodreads Rating4.02⭐
🌻 My Rating4.5⭐

What is Happy Place about?

Happy Place by Emily Henry is a romance novel about Harriet and Wyn who broke up five months ago but still haven’t told their best friends. When said friends drag them to a vacation at their favorite place and announce they’re getting married at the end of it, Harriet and Wyn decide to keep their breakup a secret for the duration in order to keep their friends happy. But both of them are still grieving the breakup and both have tons of unresolved feelings. Pretending to be a couple isn’t helping.

After loving Beach Read an extreme amount (it’s still one of my favorite romances), I had trouble liking any other Emily Henry book. I have a full(ish) review of People We Meet on Vacation here, if you’re curious, but the gist of it is that both books left me feeling different shades of meh. 

Now, I’m not sure why I decided to read Happy Place — I’m a mood reader, so I can’t abide by TBRs and I usually grab whatever feels right in the moment. But I’m really glad I gave this book a chance because it’s definitely worth a read and might be the best Emily Henry book yet. 

While the story starts off as if it’s going to be just another rom-com, it quickly takes a turn into the emotional. What it is, in the end, is a beautiful exploration of what people do to please each other, how we perceive ourselves and others, how friendships change as we grow up, and what it takes to find your happy place. 

Harriet, as a main character, was very relatable. A chronic people-pleaser, set on a path which she hates but stays on in order to make her parents happy, always the mediator, the one to keep it all together. I loved how she grew and changed throughout the story — from learning to express her feelings despite her fears that her feelings will create trouble, to realizing that she doesn’t have to keep the job that she hates. 

Her love interest, Wyn, was also quite different from most other love interests. He’s not confident or suave, though he does appear that way at the beginning. As you get to know him, you realize that he’s quite self-loathing and doesn’t believe he’s worth much because he doesn’t have a traditionally well-paid career (like most of his friends and family do). He rejects his childhood home and lifestyle, yet he doesn’t belong anywhere else. It all comes full circle when he realizes that his home and the life he could have there is what makes him truly happy. 

Both Wyn and Harriet had a lot of growing (and talking!) to do. And I see many people label this book with the miscommunication trope, but I disagree. It would be a miscommunication trope if the author was purposefully keeping the characters from talking it out, or if they kept getting interrupted by ridiculous things. 

But in Happy Place, characters fail to express what bothers them and what they feel because of their backgrounds (parents, growing up) and who they are as people. 

Life is not a therapist’s office — sometimes it’s hard to talk to people about what hurts, even friends and lovers. People miscommunicate in real life all the time for valid reasons. And I feel the reasons in this book are valid and very realistic. 

I like how the friendship was described as well, though many people disagree — it felt true to real life. Friends can have interpersonal issues and still love each other. They can keep things from each other not because of the trope, but because it’s difficult to talk with so much distance between you. 

Friendships change as you grow, that’s just the reality of things. 

I really had no issue with Harriet letting go of her career as a neurosurgeon. In fact, I was happy she did. And again, this is something people make fun of, but I’d always choose happiness over career and money — no matter how nonsensical it seems. 

The romance between our two main characters was believable and the chemistry palpable, so Happy Place really fit the bill in that sense. Their teasing and banter were fun, and the emotional scenes were soft and tender. As for the spicy scenes, I can’t really give you much since I tend to skim them — when things start veering into “insert thing A into thing B”, “his hand went here, she kissed there”, it gets boring. Not to say that I’m not a fan of spice, but it’s just not that interesting in traditionally published romance. 

Overall, Happy Place is a worthwhile read. I wouldn’t say it will end up on my list of all-time favorites, but it does tug at your heartstrings. It also convinced me to read the next Emily Henry novel, Funny Story, which comes out on April 23rd, 2024. So, give it a chance, and happy reading!

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