Sunday, May 28, 2017

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Title: Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Release Date: May 2, 2017

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Pages: 336

Received: Purchased

Star Rating: ★ ★ ★  

Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding. But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind. When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to? [goodreads]

My Thoughts

First: check out my reviews of the first two books in the trilogy!

*Includes spoilers-- You've been warned

A cherry on top. This is exactly how Jenny Han ended her sweetest book series. I'm usually late to the party, but when I bought this and read it in one day, it was an expecting ending. I haven't reread the second one in a looong time, but I thought I knew where this was going because of the synopsis. Jenny Han captures the reader, with more than savory and sweet diction, but with powerful character dynamics from the Song sisters, to her relationship with Peter.

Senior year! Lara Jean and Peter began the book with a stronger, faithful, and bubbly relationship than their last. They immediately drawn me in because their relationship is so playful. I absolutely adored Kitty; she reminds me of Lily from Modern Family! I couldn't exactly remember Stormy at first, but it all came back to me when I heard about John. Then I thought about all the other boys she loved before! Like all the pity mentions of Josh were hilarious, he was obviously the rotten apple in the bunch. I had a small feeling we were going to see Josh, but it never happened. But either way, he is the past, and Peter is Lara Jean's future.

Peter and Lara Jean's relationship was definitely on the table the entire novel. We've heard the saying the entire series, "Don't be the girl that goes to college with a boyfriend". I could not see this go any other way, but in despair for Lara Jean. But the commitment Peter has for Lara Jean, was a true testament to his love for her. The tensions between them rose from their families, to their future together. We learn more about Peter's parents, nothing that wasn't new, his dad left him and his mom's distrust of Lara Jean. Lara Jean was almost just pestering Peter about his dad, but I was also angry that he didn't go to graduation because he didn't see Peter do well without him. But his mom is another story. A whole talk with Lara Jean. How she is ruining Peter's future?! I was even more disappointed when Lara Jean believed her entirely. The breakup was dramatic to say the least. The wedding came at the perfect point for a resolution and more lovey dovey comments.

Margo and Ms Rothschild were a complicated relationship. Margo didn't want her mom to be replaced and she felt like Ms Rothschild was too comfortable at home, when she was away at college. Jenny Han amplifies common tropes to her characters, but masterly renders the storytelling from cliches. There was not a pleasant resolution between these two characters, but I know it'll work out in the end.

Korea. The best gift, but also at the worst timing. I didn't like the idea of this trip at this point of time because of the rising tensions with Peter, college switching, the wedding, I convinced myself Korea was a plot hole, where no character mentioned it again. This large event was used as another wall between Peter and Lara Jean. But just the fact that no one mentioned something briefly like, "Remember when we...",... none of that.

One final thing I loved dearly, was college choosing. Lara Jean didn't get into a selective school all her peers, and her boyfriend, got into, but it leads her to a path with a higher ranked school and best first impression. The spontaneous rendezvous with Chris to the college that suddenly un-waitlisted her was such an exciting and thrilling experience. It was basically one last hurrah for these two besties and it lightened the mood.

 I loved that the novel ends in a full circle, from the very beginning contract. The story of how someone met is usually a special one and I'm teary-eyed about Peter and Lara Jean's.

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