People We Meet on Vacation

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I really enjoyed this book in eBook and audio format. I read it pretty fast because I was so anxious to see how it would all work out. Then, when I got towards the end, I slowed down and savored it because I knew somehow it would work out like I wanted and I didn't want to finish because I wanted to spend more time with these characters.

One of the reviews on page i really captured my feelings, "...a gorgeous slow-burn romance, full of sexual tension and tantalizing possibility. I fell head over heels for Alex and Poppy, and loved traveling all over the world with them both."

On a scale of 1 - 5 (5 being a lot of examples/instances):

Sex: 4

Religion: 1

Gruesome: 1

Suspense: 3

Morality: 2

Traditional: 3

Sex - ePg. 84, loc. 1291, reference to a girl developing, a rumor started about her and an unfortunate nickname. A mom and daughter attempt to discuss being sexually active. (ePg. 119, loc. 1778) Mom gives daughter a box of condoms. (ePg. 120, loc. 1799) A young man recounts the lack of information he received about sex from his father, which only included a book about purity, then lists a big misconception he had. (Ch. 12, ePg. 123, loc. 1848) Two college-age friends of opposite genders discuss whether or not they've had sex. (Ch. 12, ePg. 124, loc. 1858) A reference to having received an inappropriate picture via text. (Ch. 16, ePg. 165, loc. 2437) A crude reference to prostate cancer. (Ch. 16, ePg. 166, loc. 2445) Lots of it in Chapter 26. Another scene in Chapter 30. (ePg. 289, loc. 4168) A crude word referring to desire. (Ch. 30, ePg. 293, loc. 4232) A third scene in Chapter 32. (ePg. 310, loc. 4464)

Religion - "God" used for emphasis, without reference to religion (Ch. 13, ePg. 128, loc. 1898) A character brags about falling in love with a priest who left the priesthood to marry her and then eight months later they had a baby. (Ch. 13, ePg. 128, loc. 1906)

Gruesome - minor illness and injury

Suspense - just the right amount to make me wonder how it was going to work out and keep me wanting to read but not so much that I wanted to skip work just to read

Morality - a girl says she is always careful about not getting pregnant. (Ch. 15, ePg. 140, loc. 2058) A girl comments that her boyfriend is the second person she's slept with. (Ch. 15, ePg. 141, loc. 2075) F* word used as a reaction to pain. (Ch. 21, ePg. 220, loc. 3198)

Traditional - Alex's brother is gay and Alex reports that his dad "got a bumper sticker that says I'M A PROUD CHRIST FOLLOWER WHO LOVES MY GAY SON". (ePg. 60, loc. 947) A reference to a scrying pool. (ePg. 119, loc. 1781) Daughter does not tell Mom that she is not yet sexually active and is still waiting for the right time. (ePg. 119, loc. 1782) Reference to a mother dying from complications of childbirth, probably in the late '80's. (Ch. 12, ePg. 124, loc. 1850) A reference to trying drugs. (Ch. 15, ePg. 140, loc. 2060) Lita, the female rafting guide they met at Buck's, has a wife. (Ch. 21, ePg. 215, loc. 3134) A gay wedding. (Ch. 32)

The book was published in 2021, so quite possibly was written during the pandemic, and includes a subtle nod to COVID when Poppy was talking about losing her shoe and said "I think letting my bare foot touch the anonymous filth on the laminate might be a good way to contract one of those rare diseases kept in the refrigerated vials of a secret CDC facility." (ePg. 2) Another point of interest, Mathilde recommends the Blue Heron inn, just outside of San Francisco. There appears to be a Heron Blue inn in Bolinas, California which is about 30 miles north of San Francisco but they do not seem to have a web presence.

Discussion Questions

I write my questions as I am reading.
When I get to the end, I look at what questions the book includes. Sometimes I find a similar question but usually I think mine are more realistic.
In this book, I loved every single question included and wished I'd thought of them. See for yourself: ePg. 370, loc. 5226

In the Prologue, Poppy tells us, "Like a good book or an incredible outfit, being on vacation transports you into another version of yourself". (ePg. 1) What outfit do you have that transports you?

Poppy realized her life had turned out how she wanted it to, and now she misses wanting something. (ePg. 21, loc. 379) Rachel tells her, "purpose matters more than contentment". (ePg. 22, loc. 405) Rachel suggests that Poppy met all her career goals and now she needs a new goal. Have you ever completed your goals? How did you feel? How long did you wait before making new goals?

In Chapter 5, Alex and Poppy list things they hate. Alex hates sax, covers, and Christmas music. What are your big NOs?

Poppy's mom used to leave her dry erase notes on the bathroom mirror. What special things did your mom do for you? What special things do you do for your children? (ePg. 68, loc. 1072)

Alex and Poppy listed places they'd rather be instead. (ePg. 70, loc. 1096) List some places you'd rather be?

The first time Alex and Poppy fly, they discover Alex is afraid of flying. (ePg. 72, loc. 1126) Do you recall your first flight? Recall a time when you were surprised by a partner's fear of something.

The vacation to Palm Springs was full of bad experiences. (ePg. 88, loc. 1349) Recount a personal vacation bad experience.

What did you think happened between Alex and Poppy in Croatia that caused the two-year rift?

When Alex tells Poppy that he got the hotel room "down to seventy-eight", she said, "Seriously?" and went to go look at the thermostat. (Ch. 16, ePg. 160, loc. 2354) Does this indicate she has issues trusting him since she had to go physically look at it?

It is common for novels to be told in the current time and a flash back time, but in this novel the flashback time bounces around. Was it necessary to be so non-linear? What did it add to the story? How would it affect the reading if the past was told sequentially?

Poppy was conflicted about her family. So I should've warned Guillermo what he was walking into, definitely, but doing so would've felt like treason. Like I was saying there was something wrong with them. And sure, they were loud and messy, but they were also amazing and kind and funny, and I hated myself for even considering being embarrassed by them. (Ch. 19, ePg. 195, loc. 2850) Can you relate?

When Alex was dating Sarah, he only called Poppy from the car. Poppy appreciated talking to him when no one else was around. (Ch. 19, ePg. 198, loc. 2887) Do you have private friendships? On the contrary, when Alex was with Poppy and called Sarah, he went outside, supposedly because he didn't want Poppy to hear his "phone voice". (Ch. 21, ePg. 212, loc. 3080) Do you have a phone voice with certain people?

Poppy preferred to stay friends with Alex even if she only got a tiny piece of him rather than having all of him for a short while and then having nothing when they broke up. (Ch. 21, ePg. 212, loc. 3078) Was that a good plan? Have you ever had a similar friendship? How did it work out?

Poppy said when she got lonely she liked to go to the airport and buy a plane ticket because then she feels connected to the people since everyone is "just trying to get somewhere, waiting to reach someone." (Ch. 21, ePg. 217, loc. 3150) Do you feel more or less alone when you travel (without your family)? Later her feelings change, "the airport strikes me as the loneliest place in the world. All those people, parting ways, going off in their own directions, crossing paths with hundreds of people but never connecting." (Ch. 32, ePg. 318, loc. 4587) How does Poppy's feeling relate to the title of the book?

Poppy told Alex to go on the trip when she was sick and she'd try and catch up with him. (Ch. 25, ePg. 242, loc. 3511) Did you think he would go? Would you have gone to nurse your friend or gone on the trip as they said to do?

Poppy liked reality TV because she liked watching the people choose a life. She felt it paralleled real life because, "You can love someone and still know the future you'd have with them wouldn't work for you, or for them, or maybe even for both of you." (Ch. 29, ePg. 279, loc. 4031) Why do you like or dislike reality TV?

Poppy said, 'Some people choose the person they have the best chemistry with, or that they have the most fun with, and some choose the one they think will make an amazing father, or who they've felt the safest opening up to. It's fascinating. How so much of love is about who you are with someone." (Ch. 29, ePg. 280, loc. 4037) How did you choose your spouse? Who are you when you are with them? How did they make you different when you first began dating?

Parker is writing a bad screen play because, "someday he'd like to write a real movie, but by writing one that can't possibly get ade, he's taking the pressure off himself during the learning process." (Ch. 35, ePg. 341, loc. 4892) Is this a good strategy? What other challenges could you do badly the first time, just for the learning process?

Who was right in the airport after the Palm Springs trip? Was Alex seeing clearly what Poppy couldn't, that she viewed him as a break from her real life? Or was Poppy just not communicating well because she hadn't thought it through?

Did you believe that Alex and Poppy would wind up together? Did you think they would live in New York or Ohio?

Poppy started a new blog - People You Meet in New York. Should there be a sequel? Would you read it?

Emily Henry says "When Harry Met Sally" is one of her favorite rom-coms and, perhaps, this book is a tribute to it. (Behind the Book, ePg. 367, loc. 5202) Did you see similarities?

Theme Ideas

Give each guest a dry erase marker so they can write notes on their children's bathroom mirrors like Poppy's mom did. (ePg. 68, loc. 1072)

Decorate with poppies and daisies (like the girl they met at Buck's - ePg. 99, loc. 1510)

Send your guests off through a tunnel of sparklers like the grooms at the wedding. (Ch. 32, ePg. 312, loc. 4493)

Go bowling, because Alex and Poppy bowled with Dolores. (Epilogue, ePg. 360, loc. 5150) If you do, serve hot dogs and a bucket of beer.

Play games:

  • In Chapter 9, Alex and Poppy play a game, trying to one-up each other when telling their story to the newlyweds in the taxi. Divide the book club members into pairs and play this game.

  • Play "UNO and Hearts and something called Quiddler" like Poppy and Alex played when they stayed at the Blue Heron. (Ch. 15, ePg. 146, loc. 2148)

  • Try and replicate Prince's talent of connecting any movie to Keanu Reeves within six degrees. (Ch. 19, ePg. 195, loc. 2849)

  • On the couple's trip, they played, "Lawn games like bocce and badminton, and board games like Clue and Scrabble and Monopoly... scribble celebrities' names onto pieces of paper, mix them up, and stick them to [our] foreheads for a game of twenty questions...with the added obstacle of every question asked requiring another drink." (Ch. 29, ePg. 278, loc. 4015)




12 summers ago - U of Chicago (Ch. 3)

11 summers ago - ride share from U of Chicago to Linfield, OH (Ch. 5)

10 summers ago - Canada (Ch. 10)

9 summers ago - Nashville (Ch. 12)

8 summers ago - San Francisco (Ch. 15)

7 summers ago - New Orleans (Ch. 17)

6 summers ago - Vail, Colorado (Ch. 19, 21)

5 summers ago - Sanibel island (Prologue, Ch. 23)

4 summers ago - Sweden and Norway (Ch. 25)

3 summers ago - Tuscany, couples trip (Ch. 29)

2 summers ago - Croatia (Ch. 33)

This Summer - Palm Springs, CA (Ch. 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31, 32, 34, 35, 36)