Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han – The ending that fans of the series deserved

Summary:

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?

My review:

I knew, the first time this book made me cry, that this would be best installment in the trilogy. By the end, I was dead-certain: Always and Forever, Lara Jean was my favourite and, I’d wager to argue, the best book in the trilogy. I loved it immensely.

I adored the first two books of the series; I loved To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before because I found a family that looked like mine, and I loved P.S. I Still Love You for the tender moments between sisters and father and daughter. Always and Forever, Lara Jean, though, felt like a category of its own: magical from start to finish; a whirlwind of emotion that made me laugh and cry and worry; a love story that was not only unforgettable but one that had grown with each book; and watching Lara Jean grow in the smallest and subtlest of ways.

Set in senior year, a chapter is coming to an end for Lara Jean. She’s worried about which colleges she’ll be getting into, she’s thinking where she is and will be in the future, her family is growing a little bigger, and, of course, and she has Peter. (But, with everyone telling her to not be the girl that goes to college with a boyfriend, for how long?) Change and the foreboding of change is a central theme in Always and Forever, Lara Jean, and Han does this wonderfully. For a lot of us, change is as mundane as moving away, going on new adventures, leaving the people we love behind and the places we grew up in, and a series of last’s. More so, the impact of change may seem invisible to others, but inside, change is as powerful as the shifting of tectonic plates. Reading this, I wondered what it would have been like if I had this book when I was leaving high school. I feel like I would have been less afraid of the future.

When I’m old and gray, I will look back on this night, and I will remember it just as it was.

Is.

We’re still here. It’s not the future yet.

One of the things that I had always loved when I read the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before books was Lara Jean’s family. As in, I think they would probably be my favourite fictional family of all time. Of course, I love Lara Jean, but one of my favourite characters is Kitty, Lara Jean’s younger sister. And perhaps I say that with a bit of bias, because Kitty reminds me so much of my younger sister. Kitty and my younger sister are stubborn, endearingly annoying (as in, my sister thrives from annoying the bejesus out of me), ask the most blunt questions — just everything about the two are so similar, it’s uncanny. (I read bits and pieces of Kitty’s dialogue to my sister and she cackled in a, ‘that’s so me’ sort of way.) Moreover, if there’s a character I love more than all of them, it might be Mr. Covey, Lara Jean’s dad. He’s so utterly adorable, but he does his best for his family by ensuring that the Song sisters remain connected to their Korean heritage, cares about what they think and have to say, and, best of all, in this book he finds love – but I’ll leave that for you to discover on your own.

Although the romance wasn’t, to me, a particularly salient aspect of the first two books (I was more interested in Lara Jean’s growth as a character), I adored the romance in Always and Forever, Lara Jean. I’m not a big reader of romance, but every once in awhile, I get the pleasure of reading a romance that makes me truly see that life and love are beautiful. And heck, Always and Forever, Lara Jean made me believe that. There were some truly pure and wonderful moments that were adorable and sweet, but they were balanced with moments that made my stomach sink. Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship isn’t all smooth-sailing in this book, the obstacles, doubts, and struggles they face are so real and valid. I remember asking myself the same questions that Lara Jean asks herself – what do you choose and how do you choose?

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

Most importantly though, Always and Forever, Lara Jean was the ending that fans of the readers deserved. I liked P.S. I Still Love You, but I felt the ending too rushed and not satisfying. Always and Forever, Lara Jean, in contrast, was a perfect ending. It was the sort of ending that fills the reader with hope. Lara Jean will definitely go through new challenges and new changes in the future, but ending it at her senior year, with so much ahead of her and behind her, felt perfect. All in all, I am thankful for this series, thankful for Han for writing this last book for us, thankful for Lara Jean. A stunning book.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | My review on Goodreads


I wrote this on my Goodreads preliminary review; I didn’t want to incorporate it into my main review, so here it is:

TL;DR: I address the common criticism that the narrative voice is ‘childish’ and a product of poor writing, and argue that the narrative voice is written as ‘childish’ for a reason.

Lara Jean is one of the few characters that I really relate to on a deep and emotional level. And a big reason why – not despite – is her narrative voice. People have called her voice immature, whiny, childish – and if that impedes your enjoyment of the overall book, then that’s fair enough! But, at the same time, I want to implore people to consider that her narrative style and that her ‘childish’ narrative is actually deliberate, and not poor writing in the slightest.

Because some teens will sound like Lara Jean. People are complex and do not conform to rigid ideas of how people or teens ought to act. (Also, consider how your ideas may be a little Eurocentric?) Not all teenagers are mature and have complex political, social, moral, etc. ideologies, nor do they have to be. Saying that teens haven’t grown up is not thoughtful critique. (Heck, have you heard how some adults talk?)

I called (and still do) my father ‘daddy’. As a teen, I was innocent and childish in the way I thought and spoke and perceived things, and I was naive. People grow at different paces in their lives. For me, I “grew up” in university; not high school. I was sheltered in high school by my family and peers (being short makes people think you’re younger and more innocent than you actually are, and so they treat you as such; and that GETS to you).

Lara Jean was me as a teenager, and I am certain that Lara Jean was others as teenagers today or yesterday.
You do not have to like this book or this series. It’s okay if this series is not for you. But consider why it may be for others.


Is this book for you?

Premise in a sentence: Last book of the series; about a girl who is in her last year of high school and the new challenges and changes that await her.

Perfect for: Readers who loved the first two books, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love Youwho enjoy romance, and coming-of-age.

Genre: Young adult, romance, contemporary, coming-of-age.

Recommended? A million times yes, but only if you liked the first two books.

Possible trigger warnings: ableist language, suicide joke (called out)


Let’s discuss!

  • Have you read the first two books of the series? What did you think of them?
  • Have you read Always and Forever, Lara Jean? What were your thoughts?
  • I think writing a trilogy that readers can be happy with is a big task. What was the best series finale that you have read?
Advertisements

16 thoughts on “Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han – The ending that fans of the series deserved

    • Hello Chloe!
      I really love this series too, and am glad that you liked it! Neither do I, but agreed with you – it was a fantastic way to end such a great story. At least we’ll have the movie right? I’m so excited to see it on the big screen.

    • Hello Bea!!
      Yessss it was my favourite too! I adored it so much, and it was everything that I wished for. I’ms so glad that Han gave Lara Jean one last book for us to say goodbye to her and her world.
      I’m so happy with how it ended too! I was so distraught in – well, I’m sure you know which parts, but am so so happy with the ending.

  1. Beautiful review – I think you perfectly summed up how I felt while reading this book. I was a little nervous about there being another book, yet it was just what we needed to say goodbye to Lara Jean (and her fabulous family, and PETER ADORABLE) in the right way. This book brought TONS of emotions and, like you said, the romance was so realistic, with its ups and downs, misunderstandings, tons of questions, what to choose, whether you are making the right decision or not, and so on.
    Great review! :)

    • Hi Marie!
      Aw, thank you so much. YES you put it to words so well – I think the third book allowed me to say goodbye to Lara Jean and her world. The second book ended too abruptly for me, so was glad to have a third, though was nervous as well because I desperately wanted to love it.
      Thank you so much!

  2. Great review! I read and enjoyed the first two, am waiting for the paperback to read the third. I really appreciated the emphasis on family in this series as well as Laura Jean’s comparative innocence. Once a fairly sheltered teenager myself, it seems like so many books for teens are gritty and I would love to see a place for both in YA.

    • Hello! And thank you so so much.
      I completely agree with you. I was very sheltered as well, so I appreciate that Han showed a different side of what it means to be a teen. I really adored this book – you’ll get to see Lara Jean grow in ways that may feel very relatable. I hope you enjoy it if you get around to reading this gem!

  3. i too loved this book. it made me cry and swoon so much. definitely the ending we deserved even tho im bummed the series is over. my favorite thing about this series is her family too. often family gets swept aside in ya books. but here it was just as important as all her other relationships if not more. ur reviews r always so well written and insightful i love them <3.

    • Hello Aurora!
      Thank you so much for such a lovely comment. I’m so glad that you loved this book! I’m bummed the series is over too, but at least we’ll be seeing them on the big screens too? I’m super excited about that, even if it has its problems.
      I completely agree that the family aspect was given so much time and I loved it. I’m really close to my family, so it meant the world to me.

  4. I always love how eloquent your review is CW, but this one feels like on a whole new level! I agree about all the things you said, especially about Lara’s childish-ness. At first, I find in annoying, but at the end of book 1 I kinda loved it. People matures differently, and yeah, I think the idea that all teens just want to grow up quickly and doing mature things is pretty much eurocentric. Most of my friends don’t do that. Can’t wait to read this and as always, wonderful review CW! <3

    • Hello Tasya!
      Aw, wow, thank you so much for your kind words. I felt so deeply for Always and Forever, Lara Jean, so I have to admit that all the words came spewing out.
      Yes! I found it a little strange at first, because I had never read a book with a narrative voice like Lara Jean’s, but it grew on me so fast.
      I hope you enjoy this book – it’s such a treasure. Thank you so much again, Tasya!!

  5. I absolutely love your review of the book. I think anyone who read and liked the book should read it, to be honest. I 100% agree with all of your reasons for liking the book as well as what you wrote at the bottom about Lara Jean’s “childish” nature. As Lara Jean is a character I can relate to in certain ways, although I understand why people call her childish, I don’t agree with it. I’m 23 and I’m still idealistic like she is. I’m still a hopeless romantic. I’m still not the hugest fan of change. And I hope the first two things never change. I don’t think growing up needs to mean growing cynical. Anyway, enough of my rambling hehe, on to your questions. (Which I’ll try not to ramble while answering. )

    Have you read the first two books of the series? What did you think of them? I read and loved them.

    Have you read Always and Forever, Lara Jean? What were your thoughts? I have and I loved it even more than the first two books in the series. I could go on but I said I wouldn’t ramble. :)

    What was the best series finale that you have read? Oh my gosh, that’s a hard one. I’m honestly not sure. Nothing’s immediately coming to mind except for this book. Though there are a lot of series finales I enjoy a lot but the “best”? Not so sure about that.

Leave a Reply! I'd love to hear your thoughts/comments. <3

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