Book Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean – Jenny Han

Title: Always and Forever, Lara Jean (2017)
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Book 3
Author: Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 336 pages
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Goodreads Description

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.

Review

I admit, I was kind of ambivalent when I first found out that Lara Jean was getting a third, previously unplanned book. I felt like we’ve got pretty much everything we could from P.S. I Still Love You and wasn’t sure if another book is necessary. As it turns out, however, there’s something lovely about watching your protagonist grow up… which is exactly what Always and Forever, Lara Jean is all about.

Let’s get this out of the way first: Always and Forever is not a statement book. What plot there is pretty much revolves around the day-to-day of Lara Jean’s final year in high school, focusing mainly on her relationship with Peter, her dad’s second wedding, and her fears about going off to college.

“I guess that’s part of growing up, too — saying goodbye to the things you used to love.”

Han’s writing style is straightforward and simple, something that I hadn’t really noticed with the first two books in this trilogy. It makes for an easy book to read — great for when you’re in a slump like I was (am) when reading this book, but truthfully, not unforgettable or particularly remarkable.

In the end, though, it’s the characters that make this book worth reading. I’ve always found Lara Jean to be really sweet and innocent, perhaps even a little naive, so I’ve never been able to really connect with her, but I’ve always loved experiencing her world and interacting with her family and friends through her eyes. I’m way, way past her exact problems, but I can relate to some of her fears, anxieties, and eventual peace.

“One day all of this will be proof, proof that we were here, proof that we loved each other. It’s the guarantee that no matter what happens to us in the future, this time was ours.”

Despite my initial doubt and average rating, I’m actually kind of sad that this is Lara Jean’s last book ever! A lot of what makes a YA contemporary novel, after all, is the coming-of-age element and what better way for authors to show that other than actually make their protagonist, well, grow up? There’s just something special about that, and Jenny Han really brings it with this book.

Advertisements

14 thoughts on “Book Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean – Jenny Han

  1. I really need to order this one. I know what you mean about Lara Jean’s voice – she is SO naive. But I think I found something about that quite refreshing, reading a protagonist who felt so genuinely YOUNG. Ugh, I don’t know if I can deal with another book about significant life change right now though. I just finished The Upside of Unrequited, Becky Albertalli’s latest, which is a lot about your relationships changing as you grow up and it was tooo much for my heart at times.

    Like

    • That’s true! I was quite the, er, cynical teenager so I think befriending someone like Lara Jean back then would be really refreshing (or really annoying, because #teenagers) – “genuinely YOUNG” just about sums it up, tbh.

      I’ve read The Upside of Unrequited too and did enjoy that part! I didn’t love the book, unfortunately, but I thought it was unique in its focus on sisterhood.

      Like

      • Omg me too. I thought I was the smartest most mature teen around (I was not).

        Aww that’s a shame! There were aspects of the book that made me uncomfortable (the BOYFRIENDS ARE EVERYTHING-ness), but at the same time I could appreciated how much my fifteen-year-old self would have been comforted by it.

        Like

  2. I agree the second book could have wrapped up Lara Jean’s story but I think when I started the Lara Jean series I always knew there was going to be a third book being released, so I’ve always been looking forwards to it. I really enjoyed the first two, but for some reason still haven’t read this one. I’m glad you enjoyed it Reg, I found Lara Jean a little naive as well in the first two books but I kind of liked that about her character. From the sounds of your review it seems like this is a decent end to Lara Jean’s story at least. Hopefully I’ll be able to get around to it soon as well. 😀
    Also great review Reg! ❤

    Like

    • I think my experience would be different too if I picked it up knowing that there’ll be a third book! Right now it’s just a sense of… hmm, finished business being brought up once again, if that makes sense (although in the end I am glad that there is a third book).

      I hope you pick this one up soon and that you enjoy it! While now I’m wishing there’ll be more, it is a decent end and certainly feels more “finished” than ending with just the second book. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think I get where you’re coming from. If I hadn’t known there was going to be a third book when I picked up the first two I’d probably have felt the same way because the second book ended the story quite well I thought.
        I hope so too, and oh I’m glad to hear this book had a satisfying ending to the series! 😀

        Like

  3. Lovely review, Reg! I’m sorry you couldn’t rate that one higher, but I understand your point. That book wasn’t really necessary, but it was good to get back into Lara Jean’s world for a little while. I find that I relate to the main character a lot and it’s so great to have a main character that is so…well, “homey”. I love it so much 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks, Marie! “Homey” is actually a really good way to describe Lara Jean – I suppose it’s kind of… rare to have a protagonist so family-oriented that her friends don’t feature much (in my opinion) in the story. I know some people like that IRL, but they’re certainly under-represented in fiction. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Agh, I was able to read a few pages of this, but not the whole thing! I’m glad you liked it — even though from what I read, it doesn’t seem to be absolutely NECESSARY to the series, I agree. I also agree that Jenny Han’s writing style is straightforward and easy to read as well! Great review. 😊❤

    Like

  5. I’m so nervous to pick this one up! These books have always kind of been my guilty pleasure reads that I love but I’m not sure if they’re the most quality books. I completely get what you mean by Jenny’s writing–the simplicity kind of makes it fun to read, since everything’s so straightforward. Hopefully I can get to it soon!

    Like

  6. I actually totally agree with you, Reg. I was super dubious about the third book considering I hadn’t really enjoyed most of the sequel, and while I thought it was… unnecessary after I finished reading, I still fully appreciated the closure. I just love the characters in this series so much; Lara Jean, Peter, Kitty, Lara Jean’s dad – they all feel like friends to me. 🙂

    ~ Aimal @ Bookshelves & Paperbacks

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s