Diverse Books · Romance · Young Adult

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han – A Book Review

All right, friends, I’m going to be very honest with you and my struggle with this particular book. I had a difficult time determining whether or not I wanted to write a full review for this or not. One of the reasons for this conflict is because many of my feelings in regards to the second book, P.S. I Still Love You, still apply with the third one. I don’t want it to feel like some passionate regurgitation. So, unlike my other reviews I think I’m going to briefly mention some points that I had issues with, give y’all my overall impression of the series as a whole, and call it a day.

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One of my biggest qualms with the second instalment was Lara Jean’s relationship and ultimate boy choice. I felt it was quite anti-feminist and problematic for many reasons. You can check out the full review here if you’d like. Long story short, I could see all of the irritating traits about her boyfriend being exhibited in her personality in this final instalment. She felt so much more insincere and less selfless, a lot more aggravatingly self-absorbed and egocentric, and too focused on the small bubble that encapsulated her relationship. I just cannot connect with a main character like that at all.Β  My initial thoughts post-reading was to perceive her behaviour as a level of regression in maturity. Lara Jean barely grows as a character at all in the span of the 600-700 pages that makes up the series known as To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

In addition to these terrible qualities manifesting themselves in Lara Jean, they burrow out of her boyfriend towards the last one-quarter of the book. For the first three-fourths he seems like he’s made some serious strides to change his douche-baggery behaviour. Yet once again when the situation presents itself, he shows his true problematic colours and further establishes himself as the wrong choice.

Maybe I just couldn’t get on board with their relationship-feels-train because of how much I loathed her love interest. Being a victim of abusive relationships involving people who had very similar personalities and a devotion to manipulating their way out of taking responsibility for their fuck-ups, I just wasn’t cool with it. Personal feelings shoved back into their respective dark corners for a second, he never helps Lara Jean grow as a person. You can actually see the positive ways that her presence in his life complements him and the choices he makes outside of the relationship, but when it comes to her it’s non-existent. He damages her emotionally and intellectually.

Redeeming qualities? Warm and tender family moments between the Song sisters as well as precious father-daughter moments were laced with beautiful emotion and sincerity. I enjoyed those and found them rather pleasant. Lara Jean’s reaction when she finally realises her “it” choice for university. It was nostalgically delightful. Margot’s growth as a character, particularly where empathy is concerned, while paced was done quite well.

In regards to the final instalment for this YA Contemporary series, while I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I wanted to, it had something the second book severely lacked: a plot. That alone makes me want to give this a higher rating. 2.75 yearbooks outta 5.

My rating for the series as a whole on the other hand is simple: read the first book, ditch the other two. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a fantastic stand-alone contemporary novel that has all of the ingredients to be a lovely feel-good book, especially as a summer read. The other two are just terrible additions that I’m going to pretend never existed.

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