*Please note: This blog post was written a while ago. My thoughts, opinions, and writing skills have changed since then. Any posts written before 2020 should be assumed to not fully reflect my current thoughts, opinions, and writing capabilities unless otherwise stated. If you would like clarification on my thoughts/opinions about any specific points mentioned in this post, feel free to reach out to me.*
Time for my first review! These are two of my all-time favorite books, which is no surprise because I’m a sucker for all things Jenny Han. And although yes, I called this a duology, if you didn’t already know, (then who are you??) it’s soon to become a trilogy! April 2017 cannot come fast enough. Overall, I give the duology a 4.5 rating which doesn’t make sense because I give both the books 5 star ratings. The reason is because although I really really really loved both books individually, I had a few minor problems with them that make my overall opinion a little less than perfect. Here’s why…
“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.”
“Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?
In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.”
“Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.
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?”
Let’s start with the first one–To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. This book, oh gosh…I loved it so much. I loved Peter and I loved Lara Jean and I loved all the characters. This book made me cry and laugh and feel feelings. Even though Lara Jean loved Josh throughout much of the book, I did not ship them and I didn’t feel bad for doing so because what I really shipped was Josh and Margot. I loved Peter so much and I was rooting for him throughout the whole book. I also love how in all Jenny Han books, the characters are so relatable. Not that their life exactly matches mine or anything, but they always encounter embarrassing or imperfect situations that mimic how real life really is. It really helps me to connect with them, and to get deeper into the story because I feel like I am there too, that I am Lara Jean. Also, Peter was so sweet. I loved how unexpectedly gentlemanly he was. Also, Lara Jean’s dad! And Margot!! And KITTY!!! The family is so imperfectly perfect and they add so much dynamic to the story. I love how the book isn’t just about Lara Jean’s love life but also her other relationships, too, like her family members. It also helps that she’s a hopeless romantic, like me. Here’s one thing that annoyed me a teeny bit though, although it didn’t subtract from the story. Lara Jean is what, 16? To me, the way she “talks” (narrates) the story sounds younger, like maybe a 13 year old. I’m not just saying this because she doesn’t swear or whatever. But just how childlike and naive she can be. I know she’s not completely oblivious, but just how shielded she was somewhat peeved me. Then there’s Genevieve…Genevieve is a character. And yes, I was very very annoyed by her. After reading the second book, I did feel bad for her family situation, but her character in general, just, UGH. First of all, she’s been holding this one grudge since MIDDLE SCHOOL. She claims that Lara Jean broke the girl code by kissing Peter, but as we all know, it was Peter who kissed her! And I can hear some of you guys saying, “Well Genevieve didn’t know that.” But think about it: yes, yes she did. Remember how she found out Peter and Lara Jean kissed in the first place? Because she was there. And if she was there, what else would she have seen? She’d’ve seen how Peter commented on Lara Jean’s hair. How Lara Jean was explaining about her shampoo. How Peter out of nowhere kissed her. This made me jaheoihfajwhjgbjwahg. Because if anyone else was there they’d have been able to tell that Lara Jean was not the one who initiated the kiss. If anyone, blame Peter!! Because as Lara Jean said,
“You kissed me for no reason. Even though I knew you liked Gen, and you knew you liked Gen, and Gen knew you liked Gen. But you still did it.”
Welp. That’s about it for the first one. Oh, also I forever lament the fact that Josh and Margot never got back together. Anywho, now it’s time for my review of P.S. I Still Love You.
Alright, so you know how I said I loved Peter? Well, I started regretting that almost right after he and Lara Jean made up again, when all the video stuff started happening. I’m not saying I hated him every second, but gosh, that kid can be a real jerk. Like, maybe the fact that he claims Lara Jean has nothing to be jealous of between him and Gen, but then he becomes insanely and irrationally jealous of John Ambrose McClaren? And it bothered me insanely how easily Lara Jean just took him back. Like, how Peter forgot Lara Jean’s birthday (but John Ambrose McClaren remembered it after all those years) but gives her back the necklace that he wasn’t supposed to take back anyway, and then not five minutes later in the car Lara Jean decides she loves Peter and not John Ambrose McClaren?? Like really, Lara Jean????? But aside from that, can we please just talk about John Ambrose McClaren? Even his name is perfect. Like John. Ambrose. McClaren. John Ambrose McClaren. JohnAmbroseMcClaren. I absolutely adore that kid, okay. Like Jenny Han literally does not give him any character flaws whatsoever. I know I mentioned that I like when characters aren’t perfect and have relatable aspects, but John Ambrose McClaren still seems real and I wouldn’t want him to not be perfect. Like maybe if there was some teeny-tiny reason to hate him but there isn’t. There really isn’t. Like how just, upfront he is. And chivalrous. And sweet. And handsome. And kind. Honestly, he makes me want to kick Lara Jean for not choosing him.
“’So what would you have asked for if you won?’
He doesn’t hesitate even one beat. ‘Your peanut butter chocolate cake with my name written in Reese’s Pieces.'”
And then. AND THEN,
“I stare at him in surprise. That’s what he would have wished for? He could have anything and he wants my cake? I give him a curtsy. ‘I’m so honored.’
‘Well, it was a really good cake,’ he says.”
Seriously, you’d be crazy for not loving him. Most of the best scenes have him: the USO party, and the snowball fight, etc. etc. Another thing I really liked in this book was the treehouse party with the old gang and the game of Assassins. It was just really cute and nostalgic how they all got back together (other than Allie Feldman). The Assassins scenes were so fun. I loved reading about all their different plans. Also I’m really glad that Josh and Lara Jean and Margot are in a good place. Although I’m still disappointed Josh and Margot aren’t together again, it’s still nice that they can sort of be friends again. It’s just sad that neither Josh and Lara Jean nor Josh and Margot can get back what they had before. I think that’s that for the second one. Really, I just love John Ambrose McClaren.
I guess I’ll put my thoughts on Always and Forever, Lara Jean. I’m excited about getting a third book because I love whatever Jenny Han writes. However, I’ve got some qualms about it. The first being that from the summary, no John Ambrose McClaren and Lara Jean do not get together again. I think that scene in P.S. I Still Love You was their closure. I don’t think he’s going to show up in the last one. I don’t hate Peter. He and Lara Jean are still really cute. Maybe he won’t be such a jerk in this one. So, I’m not going to moan about it. However, from the summary, it sounds a lot like one of those college conflict stories: love interest or education? These plots are overused and annoy me so much. Especially since Jenny Han is one author I can rely on to always have creative ideas. I can already think of a title just at the top of my head with the same conflict–Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith. So, like, I dunno. I’m scared I won’t love this book as much as the other two. But the thing is, I trust Jenny Han. I trust that she can craft a really really good book. Also, on the flip side, I’m really excited that Lara Jean’s dad and Ms. Rothschild are getting married! I really did agree with Kitty that they’d be a good couple.
So…yeah! That’s the end of this really long first review! Loved it? Hated it? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below. Let me know your own opinions on the books, and I’d also be glad to get any requests for my next review. Until then…