Book Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Rating: Fire star-1991908_1920star-1991908_1920star-1991908_1920star-1991908_1920star-1991908_1920

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When I heard that Jenny Han was writing a third book for the Lara Jean trilogy, my inner fangirl (oh, who am I kidding. My outer fangirl) screamed. And started immediately counting down the days to the release. Now that I’m done, I feel the post series depression sinking in, as this series has been the realest, cutest, most comforting contemporary series I’ve ever read, and it pains me to say goodbye to all the fabulous characters who’ve I’ve come to know so well.

 

“Kitty’s always saying how origin stories are important.
At college, when people ask us how we met, how will we answer them? The short story is, we grew up together. But that’s more Josh’s and my story. High school sweet-hearts? That’s Peter and Gen’s story. So what’s ours, then?
I suppose I’ll say it all started with a love letter.”

Lara Jean and Peter are now in their senior year of high school (who let time fly so fast???) and the huge decision of college looms ahead of them. Lara Jean thinks she has a plan for the future, but sometimes plans don’t work out, and they need to change. But this puts a strain on Peter and Lara Jean’s (perfect) relationship, and they will need to work through it in their mature way they always do. It is a very character driven story, about how our favorites deal with change. But Jenny Han is so incredible at making these characters come to life and be fully fleshed out, so I didn’t mind one bit just learning about their lives again.

“’Wait, I thought I was your dream guy,’ Peter says. Not to me, to Kitty. He knows he’s not my dream guy. My dream guy is Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables. Handsome, loyal, smart in school.”

So here is one of my favorite characters of all time. Lara Jean. Sweet, loving, Pinterest using, wedding planning, cookie baking, scrapbook making Lara Jean. Jenny Han is amazing at character development, so I really feel like Lara Jean is my friend, and every time she was sad I was sad. Also, I just relate to her so much, which is such a comforting and validating feeling. Also, I love how she is just herself. She does her, and it works so well. She’s just so real, one of the realest contemporary characters.

“There’s an openness to his face, an innocence—a certain kind of niceness. It’s the niceness that touches my heart the most.”

I just want to put it out there; PETER IS MINE (except he’s actually Lara Jean’s and I don’t want to mess with that because they are so perfect). Why is he the most perfect boyfriend in the world and he has to be fictional?! This is the reason I have such high expectations for high school boys, because characters like Peter Kavinsky exist. He is sweet, smart, caring, observant, teasing, playful, goofy, and loves Lara Jean with all his heart. And he is vulnerable and not afraid of feelings. AND HE REENACTS ROM-COM SCENES FOR LARA JEAN NOT ONCE, BUT TWICE, BECAUSE SHE LOVES THEM AND HE LOVES HER AND I JUST WANT THAT. And he goes to get Lara Jean a cookie on their NY trip and is overall amazing and I want him in my life. 

“Peter will love Lara Jean with all his heart, always”

Their relationship is one of the healthiest I’ve come across in YA contemporary, and they are both very mature in their relationship while also managing to hold onto that young giddiness they had at the beginning of their relationship. Lara Jean and Peter both mutually respect each other as well as love each other. They care about each other and try to listen to each other. They spend time with people the other person considers important to them, and try to make a good impression. And when they have problems, and even when they fight, they try to talk it out and don’t do stupid, impulsive decisions and try to hurt the other. And I just. I can’t express my love for them enough. Their conversations were always the sweetest, even when they were fighting, because you could hear the love they have for each other. They teased each other and had fun with each other, which is super important as well. Also, PROPS TO JENNY HAN FOR MAKING THIS PROBABLY THE ONE BOOK SHE HAS EVER WRITTEN WHERE THERE IS NO LOVE TRIANGLE. YAY. JUST PETER AND LARA JEAN FOREVER.

One aspect I was really happy about in the book was the reemergence of the Lara Jean-Chris friendship. Even though they are both obviously very different, they have managed to stay friends all through high school, and there were some very sweet scenes in this book where it was just obvious how much they meant to each other and underneath all of Chris’ toughness, she really was a softie. I’m also glad Gen plays less of a role in this book. Lara Jean moved past her in the previous book, and if she came back, it just would have been unnecessary. And even though John Ambrose McClaren comes back (ugh), he plays such a minor role it’s okay.

“Families shrink and expand. All you can really do is be glad for it, glad for each other, for as long as you have each other.”

Also, WE GOT TO SEE THE SONG GIRLS AGAIN. Probably my favorite band of sisters ever, tbh. And the dad! I’m really happy with his character arch as well, even though it’s been more subtle. As Lara Jean notes, there is a difference between content and happy, and I’m glad he finally gets to be happy. All he’s done is sacrifice for his daughters and be the best dad ever, but I’m glad he gets something for himself. Also, it was super funny to watch him try to discipline Lara Jean, just because he’s such a teddy bear. And Margot does make an appearance in this book to be just as annoying yet lovable as always. She always seems to mess things up for Lara Jean when she comes, so I kind of hate her, but then they have their sister make up moments and I love her again. But I always take Lara Jean’s side in their arguments. Oops. And Kitty! She’s growing up so fast! *wipes tear from face*. She still is as goofy and mischievous as ever, but she really is growing up and becoming more than just a little sister. Honestly, I’d love a spinoff series about Kitty, because her perspective on life would be so different than Lara Jean’s (hint hint, nudge nudge Jenny Han).  

“It snuck up on me—growing up, I mean.”

Last note, this book hit me super close to home because, as I’ve mentioned maybe 185729572 other times, I’m going to college soon so saying goodbye is very scary for me and the idea of the future in general is. Lara Jean had many of the same fears as me, so it was comforting to read about how she dealt with it. I know it is going to be a very bittersweet time for me, but this book brought out ALL THE FEELS I’m sure I’m going to be feeling when I graduate. Like when I would cry during the book (which was a lot tbh but I’m emotional), half of it was also for me and my goodbyes I would have to make (I’m awful at goodbyes).

All in all, what an amazing book to end an amazing series. I’m sad it’s over, but this books was a happy surprise anyway and I’ve already lived in a life after the Song girls, so I should be able to do it again. Just please, if anyone knows a Peter Kavinsky and wants to send him my way….

Have you read this book? What did you think? Who was your favorite character?

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