People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 364 pgs.
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People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry has a title that I found misleading because it is not about people that Alex and Poppy meet on vacation but the versions of themselves that they meet on vacation. Alex and Poppy’s friendship blossomed after an awkward rideshare home one summer — yes, they are from the same little Ohio town, but have very different perspectives on that kind of life.

What makes this book work is the banter between Alex and Poppy, even if it seems they are so different that it is impossible to think how this relationship would work in real life. Poppy is a travel writer for R+R Magazine and he’s a high school English teacher. She’s battling “millennial ennui” and much of the book is told from her erratic point of view.

After we meet these protagonists, we spend a lot of time with Poppy. She’s tough to take sometimes, which is probably because she doesn’t know who she is. She knows she loves travel and writing, but she’s still hiding from her family (not because she doesn’t love them) and she’s keeping others at arms length. Even her fun relationship with Rachel seems a bit too close to the surface. Poppy is clearly struggling with self, and this all comes to a head on her last vacation with Alex.

“For the first time in my life, the airport strikes me as the loneliest place in the world.” (pg. 318)

Henry creates a narrative that alternates from the present to the past (Poppy and Alex have gone on previous summer vacations together). In many ways there is a countdown to the reveal of why they don’t speak when we see Poppy during her “career” crisis. It is a predictable reason, but the interactions between Poppy and Alex on this final vacation are worth the wait. You can see why their differences are complementary. You can see why they love each other and take vacations together. You see how each has grown but still has more growing to do as individuals.

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry did not make me want to go on vacation with Alex and Poppy. In fact, their messy friendship kind of made me want to stay home. However, I did enjoy the journey and reading this one with a buddy. I will be picking up other Emily Henry novels, like Beach Read and Book Lovers, because I find quirky characters engaging, even if I don’t envy their lives.

RATING: Tercet

About the Author:

Emily Henry writes stories about love and family for both teens and adults. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the now-defunct New York Center for Art & Media Studies. Find her on Instagram @EmilyHenryWrites.


  1. I’m enjoying this one, so I don’t know why it’s taking me so long to finish it. I agree that their relationship is messy but that their banter is fun to read.


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