Book Reviews

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han: Book Review

This is a spoiler-free review.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Book 3

Published May 2nd, 2017 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers.

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year.

And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn’t be more perfect!

At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks . . . until she gets some unexpected news.

Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

“I guess that’s a part of growing up too – saying good-bye to the things you used to love.”

Even though my time in high school is long gone from my rearview mirror, I have – and likely always will – a soft spot in my heart for Young Adult novels.

YA novels have the incredible ability to wholly encapsulate a moment in time forever and keep it locked away for safe keeping. Opening a YA book takes me back to being a teenager myself, and reminds me of exactly what that was like: the emotions I felt, the worries I had, the things that meant everything to me at the time.

Sure, some YA novels ask you to suspend your disbelief a little. But while sometimes the premise isn’t always the most realistic, I find the heart of the story almost always rings true.

The first two novels in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before were definitely in that category. While sweet and heartfelt, there wasn’t much depth to them outside of that. And there’s nothing wrong with that – I’m a huge fan of romantic comedies and fantasy novels for a reason – sometimes you need to be taken out of your world and transposed into a new one where anything is possible and nothing is confined by the laws of reality.

But, that’s not the case for this third and final instalment.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean is different. It isn’t about fake dates or love triangles – it’s about growing up.

This book felt real in a way a lot of books don’t. In a way a lot of books can’t. Growing up, going to college, saying goodbye to your high school friends, to your high school self – it isn’t a literary trope that only exists in the space where we suspend our disbelief and enjoy it for what it is: something that takes us out of our everyday lives, from the “real world” – it is real. It is or was or will be our life.

And Jenny Han captures that in a beautiful, raw way in this book.

To All the Boys I loved Before is a series about love letters. And that’s what I feel like this is: a love letter to her readers. A way for them to read about the life-changing events covered in this story and be able to look forward to them, experience them alongside Lara Jean, or look back on and remember.

This story is filled with sweet nostalgia, and hopes and dreams in a way only a Young Adult novel can be. And I, as my no-longer-a-teenager-self, thoroughly enjoyed being taken back there once more.

“Things are ending, but they are beginning, too.”

Have you read the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before books? Watched the movies?

What did you think?

Let me know!

Liza is a twenty-something book blogger who spends way too much time with her nose in books and feels way too much. She loves cooking, baking, reality tv show watching and, of course, reading. She can be found most often with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Her blog, Literary Liza, features bookish content like reviews, recommendations, and author interviews.

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