Review: Happily Ever Island by Crystal Cesari

  • Title: Happily Ever Island
  • Author: Crystal Cesari
  • Publisher: Disney Hyperion
  • Release Date: 6/7/22
  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction
  • Age Range: Young Adult
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Publisher’s Summary: Welcome to Happily Ever Island, the most pixie-dusted vacation a Disney fan could ever imagine. Head-in-the-clouds romantic Madison and driven pragmatist Lanie are unlikely best friends, but the two would do anything for each other. So when Madison’s life starts to fall apart, Lanie agrees to join Madison for the test run of Disney’s newest resort experience during their first college spring break: Happily Ever Island—an immersive vacation destination, where guests can become their favorite Disney character for a week. Madison decides to go as the iconic princess herself, Cinderella, with Lanie as bow-wielding Merida. It’s not Lanie’s idea of fun, but she knows Madison needs her, and besides, she could use the break from her strenuous courseload anyway. Plus, maybe she’ll get to shoot things. But once on the island, Lanie and Madison begin to drift apart. Madison finds herself either missing out or messing up all the enchanting moments she has dreamt her whole life about, and is forever running into their annoyingly perfect (and distractingly cute) vacation’s coordinator, Val. Meanwhile, Lanie unexpectedly finds herself swept up in the magic of it all. She strikes up a secret romance with Prince Charming—but there’s no telling whether he’s just playing a part. In this delightful YA rom-com inspired by Disney fandom, get swept up in a whirlwind of laughter, tears, and more than just a touch of Disney magic. 

From the first chapter of Happily Ever Island, I knew this is a book made for me. I am a full-fledged Disney adult like Madison. An island dedicated to Disney live-action role play is definitely up my alley. I actually read some of this book in line at Disney World, which was the perfect place to read it.

I found myself relating to both Madison and Lanie, and it was so lovely to get both of their points of view throughout the story. My organized, type-A side definitely related to Lanie. I may be a lot older than Lanie, but I also often wonder what I want to do with my life. My Disney Park obsessed self who thrives in a customer service role is more like Madison. I loved watching these two grow and learn from one another over the course of the story.

This book exudes Disney magic in every page. The dinner at the Beast’s castle complete with all of the dishes mentioned in “Be Our Guest” had my smile widening with each new lyric referenced. I certainly related to Madison and Val competing over their knowledge of Disney trivia as someone who has spent many hours over the past few years playing Disney trivia. I also loved that the book reminds us that Disney can bond people of all generations as Madison shares memories of watching Disney films with her grandmother, and Ethan talks about Disney films helping his mom through cancer treatment. Happily Ever Island reads like a tribute to the Disney fan.

The descriptions of Happily Ever Island transported me to this beautiful magical place. I felt like I could see laterns during the “I See the Light” sequence from Tangled and could see the ice crystals in Arendelle. I also definitely wanted to eat at Tiana’s Palace and go on a Pocahontas themed canoeing journey. I loved that Val even gives Madison (and the reader) a rundown of how the island is laid out.

Few Disney stories would be complete without a romantic love story (Brave and Moana, I see you). I appreciated that Happily Ever Island took the expected romance and turned it on its head a little bit. Madison comes to the island as Cinderella, but it’s Lanie who meets Prince Charming first and builds a connection with him. Ethan is there for Lanie and is willing to listen to her talk about her personal struggles but is also there to joke around with her about how Prince Charming doesn’t really do all that much. I loved that Val sees Madison for all of her potential and is willing to listen to her suggestions for Happily Ever Island. I thoroughly enjoyed following the development of both of their relationships.

Any massive Disney (and Disney Parks) fan is guaranteed to love this book. I am ready to book my ticket to Happily Ever Island right now.

3 thoughts on “Review: Happily Ever Island by Crystal Cesari

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