Books in series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, P.S I Still Love You, Always and Forever, Lara Jean
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
My rating: 4 overall (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before 4★, P.S I Still Love You 4★, Always and Forever, Lara Jean 4★)
Genres: contemporary, romance, young adult
Diversity: Korean-American main character, gay side character
Content warnings: death of a parent, alcohol use,
❝ Love is scary: it changes; it can go away. That’s the part of the risk. I don’t want to be scared anymore. ❞
I can’t believe how quick and hard I fell in love with this series. I was expecting to enjoy it, but just in an entertainment way. I was expecting it to be fluffy and fun and have a really cute romance, but then I’d be over it. This series is definitely all those things but it’s also so much more. I fell in love with the characters and the romance, and the sibling relationships. Lara Jean as a character, and the Song Sisters relationship, really resonated with me and Jenny Han capture childhood nostalgia and the thrill of first love so perfectly I feel a little bit moved by it.
Jenny Han really managed to encapsulate so many anxieties of growing up in this series. In book one, Margot leaving for Scotland forces Lara Jean to assume the role as the oldest sister in the household. The second book follows Lara Jean’s relationship with Peter and her anxieties about having sex for the first time, as well as her sadness over the feeling she’s growing up and losing her childhood friends. The final book is about college anxiety and feeling like you need to choose a path to be on, even though you still feel so long. I really liked how the enormity and complexity of the issues Lara Jean had to deal with increased as she got older. I really resonated with her journey and felt almost as if she was taking it alongside me. All the things that happen to Lara Jean in this series I also dealt with not that long ago, or I am now, and so this felt intensely relatable.
Lara Jean was the perfect eyes to read this series through. I adore Lara Jean. She’s a hopeless romantic, a baking goddess and honestly, a little bit extra. But I really loved that about her. I related to her so much and I really liked how she developed as a character and person throughout this series. She becomes much more mature and confident and outspoken as the series progresses and I really loved watching that change.
❝ People come in and out of your life. For a time they are your world; they are everything. And then one day they’re not. There’s no telling how long you will have them near. ❞
Throughout it all Jenny Han maintains this romantic backdrop. Peter and Lara Jean’s relationship is far from perfect. They both frequently mess up and hurt one another but I thought this was really realistic. Han deconstructs Lara Jeans idealised vision of romance she’s picked up from novels and film and that creates a teenage romance that is realistic in it’s messiness and oftentimes immaturity. But I really, really loved their romance. Peter is sweet and funny and a bit of a jock but in a really loveable puppy way. Lara Jean is so dorky and awkward but she’s also so so sweet too and the scenes of them together literally killed me from the cute fluffiness of it all. The truth is I’d date them both in a heartbeat. I also love how sex positive this was and how Lara Jean and Peter’s first time attempting to have sex was handled.
As mentioned above, the relationship between the Song Sisters was probably my favourite aspect of this book that wasn’t the romance. And I loved every single song sister individually. Kitty was probably my favourite but I adored Margot too. The sister relationship was honestly so spot on, and I related to it a lot as a middle sister of three girls. Seeing three sisters in books is so rare, this is one of the few series I’ve seen do it and the only one I’ve seen do it so well. Hen nailed the complexities and intricacies of navigating relationships with your sisters. Theres ups and downs but ultimately you always have eachothers backs. This was perfectly communicated here and I felt incredibly seen through reading Lara Jean’s relationship with her sisters.
This is one of those series I really just fell more and more in love with. While I enjoyed book one, I loved book two even more, and book three was probably my least favourite but I still enjoyed it A LOT nonetheless. I see lots of people say the first book is the best but I personally enjoyed how much more complex and dramatic things got as they went on. I think it perfectly mirrored how life gets progressively more complex. Lara Jean’s nostalgia and lust for a simpler time in her childhood was something I’ve been feeling a lot lately too. In many ways it feels like this series came into my life at exactly the right time. If I had read it at any other point it wouldn’t have resonated with me so strongly, and I wouldn’t have been so deeply affected.
“Don’t let it happen to you, Lara Jean. Don’t get too serious to where things can’t go back. Be in love with Peter if you want, but be careful with your heart. Things feel like they’ll be forever, but they aren’t. Love can go away, or people can, without even meaning to. Nothing is guaranteed.”
I am absolutely in love with this series and I really would love to reread it at some point. Jenny Han nailed everything here. The romance and the sibling relationships are perfect. Lara Jean is an great main character to follow, but she’s flawed and learns and develops so much as this series progresses. Jenny Han embeds nostalgia and yearning for the past throughout the books, creating this vaguely melancholic mood thats mixed in with the elation of new discovery and getting to try out new things and new versions of yourself as you get older. What was supposed to be a quick fluffy read for me turned into something so much more, but the books that do that always end up being my favourites.
until next time!