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
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.
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.