This review does not contain any spoilers for the previous books in the series. Read with no fear.
The story of Lara Jean is one of these stories that many readers and bloggers loved, and others did not really see the appeal in. I am part of the first group here. As a contemporary lover, I could not not fall in love with this story and, from the first book, I was charmed by the Covey family, Lara Jean’s old spirit and everything else going around it all. Obviously, I was eager when I heard there would be a third addition to the series, and I wasn’t disappointed after closing the last page of this book: on the contrary, I felt satisfaction, a bit of melancholy and sadness but overall, I felt good.
A BITTERSWEET STORY ABOUT ALL OF THE “LASTS” OF HIGH SCHOOL
“I guess that’s part of growing up, too–saying goodbye to the things you used to love.”
Lara Jean’s story isn’t one to read if you’re looking for non-stop action and terrible dramas of sorts. This series of books, and the last one, would not deliver for sure. On the slow spectrum of contemporary books, this story, especially this latter book, is more of a life story than an epic journey ; however, how often do you encounter book you can actually relate to this much because it just feels like the way your life is? (Certainly not mine, as I left high school a bit long ago now, but still, RELATABLE).
In this last book, Lara Jean is on her senior year of high school, eagerly waiting for her acceptance letters to university, in love with her boyfriend Peter, surrounded by her sisters– one physically here, the other by Skype connections as she is studying in Scotland –, her father and the new woman in her dad’s life. Obviously, things will happen, life decisions will be made, everything will be changing and going not according to the plan because life seems to be that way for so many people.
This last Lara Jean book perfectly delivered all of the feelings about this particular period of life. If my experience was a bit different, as I didn’t go to high school in the USA, didn’t have prom and a different kind of process to go to university, I could relate and thought that the author perfectly grasped the feelings of that period of uncertainty, stressful moments of life-changing decisions, being on the verge of such a big change and everything else that goes with it. Filled with melancholy, sadness, questions of leaving people behind or not, leaving everything you have ever known… This story was a bittersweet goodbye to teenagehood, as well as a bittersweet goodbye to the Lara Jean series and story, which is something I loved so much and made me tear up a little bit, I will admit it.
A STRONG, RELATABLE CAST OF CHARACTERS
What makes this story and series so strong, is the cast of characters. As in any contemporary, characters are the most important thing, and Jenny Han built someone just so relatable – for me – that I couldn’t help but root for her from page one, and feel for her until the very end of the story. Lara Jean is, for me, one of the most relatable characters in young adult contemporaries. She bakes. She reads. She goes home and stays in her pajamas and care about baking the perfect cookie. She’s so, homey; and why aren’t characters more like that? I wonder, because I loved her, and being this way did not make Lara Jean boring in any single way, on the contrary. I felt for her even more because she felt so…normal.
Family bonds in this story are so strong they made my heart burst with happiness. They are very strong and a major part of the story: sister bonds, the presence of the new woman in the father’s life, changes, growing apart, distance, everything is taken into account and explored in the relationships. Lara Jean’s fathers is one of the greatest parent in young adult books, if you ask me: he is HERE (so that’s already something major, am I right?), but he also is everything a dad should be: caring, understanding but also worried, angry and everything else. He is a PARENT, basically.
SWEET AND REALISTIC RELATIONSHIP
“I don’t want to forget any of this. The way he’s looking at me at this very moment. How, when he kisses me, I still get shivers down my back, every time. I want to hold on to everything so tight.”
I obviously can’t NOT talk about the love story, as it is a major part of the book as well. Peter and Lara Jean’s relationship grew from the first book to something natural, genuine, adorable and overall really sweet. I appreciated how they understood each other, how caring Peter was for Lara Jean. There were flaws, moments of misunderstandings, obviously, struggles, as in any relationships. The struggles growing stronger as the decisions to go away for college approached, the feelings growing and the dilemma surrounding each of them and the future of their relationship. Everything felt overall realistically handled, which I really enjoyed.
Always and Forever Lara Jean, was the perfect, bittersweet ending to this series. It was a quick read and it wasn’t perfect, at times obviously I got annoyed at the misunderstandings and everything else happening, but Jenny Han perfectly captured the melancholy and feelings of the “lasts” of high school. Definitely a series I would recommend if you love young adult contemporaries.
Final rating: 4 drops!
Do you want to read Always and Forever, Lara Jean? Did you read the series or would you be interested in reading it? Share your thoughts in comments!
Jenny Han, Always and forever, Lara Jean, Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, May 2nd 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.
When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?