Always and Forever, Lara Jean

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The third book in Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy, the final novel is entitled Always and Forever, Lara Jean. My reviews of the first and second book can be found in previous posts.

Lara Jean Song Covey is in her senior year of high school, and life is good. Her and Peter’s relationship is stronger than ever, her father is getting married and her older sister Margot will be coming home for the summer soon. With graduation coming, the future is on her mind: starting college and a new beginning, preferably with Peter. Their plan is to attend the University of Virginia together. But when Lara Jean unexpectedly doesn’t get in, it makes her wonder what her future will really hold- and whether or not it will include Peter. Further doubts arise when she realizes that she has to say goodbye to the friends she has known since childhood.

First of all, what’s interesting about this novel is that it wasn’t originally planned. According to an interview with Bustle, Jenny Han stated that after writing the second book, she was focusing on other projects but kept going back to Lara Jean. She realized that writing the end of Lara Jean’s high school career would serve as a good conclusion to the series.

One of the elements the novel most focuses on is college admissions. Senior year is usually when most high schoolers apply to colleges and make their decision by the unofficial date of May 1. Sometimes, people don’t get in to the school they want and have to go with their second school, a decision that’s not always easy. This is the kind of situation that Lara Jean finds herself in. The plot also focuses on how an existing relationship can be affected if the two people decide to go to two different colleges. Long-distance relationships can be hard to maintain.

Another difficulty Lara Jean deals with is having to leave her family, friends and home for college. While her older sister Margot has been at college, Lara Jean took on her role of helping around the house and taking care of their younger sister Kitty. But now she realizes that she’ll be away from her sister, father and new stepmom. Change is a major theme of the novel, and I liked how Han handled it realistically- having Lara Jean talk to her friends about their futures and how things will be different.

I definitely recommend this novel to those who enjoy a story about the end of one chapter and the start of another.

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

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Written by American author Jenny Han, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is about Lara Jean Song, an Asian-American high schooler. The middle child of three girls, she is close with her older sister Margot and has helped to take care of their younger sister Kitty since their mother passed away. Their father is devoted to his family and works hard as a doctor to provide for his three daughters.

The title refers to letters that Lara Jean has written to five different boys that she’s loved over the years, and keeps in a special hatbox in her bedroom. One day, though, she finds that her letters have been sent  and now has to deal with the consequences. This becomes especially difficult since the guys include Margot’s former boyfriend Josh and popular classmate Peter. With Margot away at college in Scotland, Lara Jean must deal with the situation while assuming a new leadership role in her family.

There are several elements I like about this story. The single parent element is present in a lot of novels, but I like Han’s depiction of Lara Jean suddenly realizing she has to take on more responsibility after Margot leaves.  I found I could relate to this, having lived like an only child for a long time after my brother left for college when I was 15.

I also liked the use of regular mail as a plot device. In the digital age, most of the novels I’ve read have included an email, picture, or some form of electronic entity as the catalyst. It was nice to have plain old letters serve as the catalyst for a change. 15749186

Upon hearing of the sequel, P.S. I Still Love You, I will definitely be checking it out. The only hitch is having to wait until the e-book is available to borrow on my Kindle. Ironic, considering the books are about written letters.