Book Review: Always & Forever, Lara Jean (To All The Boys I've Loved Before #3) ~Jenny Han

When I say I’ve been procrastinating….I’ve been procrastinating. Yeah, sure, I’ve been busy the last few days…but not busy enough to not have time to sit down and write this review! Forgive me friends, laziness has struck once again.

I think I partially procrastinated because I wanted to make this review amazing. After all, an amazing review is what any book written by Jenny Han deserves. My feels were literally all over the place while reading the conclusion of our world with LJ and Peter, so let’s dive into the storm that was my emotions.

Characters: ✭✭✭✭

Cover: ✭✭✭✭✭

Pacing: ✭✭✭✭✭

Chapter length: ✭✭✭✭✭

Cliche count: ✭✭✭✭✭

Overall rating: ✭✭✭✭✭

Synopsis: 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?”

Characters: These are the same characters we’ve been dealing with since book one, and I’m happy to say I still love all of them, even though the stubbornness. I really enjoyed watching Margot’s reaction to Trina and how Peter reacts to Lara Jean’s ultimate decision. There’s definitely a mutual stubbornness in those two, and I related a lot. I also loved seeing Lara Jean begin to blossom into her own sophisticated decision-making self. Life lesson alert!

Cover: Do I have to even? I love these covers.

Pacing: I think the pacing of this book is perfect for the ultimate lesson I yielded: things change, and it’s inevitable. From Lara Jean’s worries about how Kitty will fare without her big sisters, to how Margot feels left out of the family when she returns home after Trina has moved in; it all shows how things change and how we adapt to that change. It’s gradual.

Chapter Length: Along with the pacing, the length of the chapters fit just enough controversy and mixed signals to keep me asking questions and flipping to find out what happened next.

Cliche Count: Normally I’d say the whole college and boyfriends thing is stereotypical, but the internal conflict regarding the situation is totally original to Lara Jean and Peter. Therefore, I found no huge cliches that irritated me about the book. Hooray!

So in my messy notes I wrote for this review, I picked out 3 main lessons I got from the book. One I already stated above, but they are:

-Yet another example of why communication in any relationship is so important.

-Change can be sudden and adaptation can be gradual. Either way, it is inevitable: things are gonna change.

-Don’t let other’s opinions/values influence yours…too much.

Communication is vital

Lara Jean and Peter were perfectly happy together before graduation. They had their plan, and everything was set in stone, right? Wrong. What went wrong? Lara Jean got into UNC, and then her feelings changed. These changed feelings scared Peter, but he didn’t want to say anything. Not to mention, this change of heart wasn’t explicitly stated by Lara Jean. So, they were both wrong in part: Lara for not discussing the new option explicitly with Peter, and Peter for not letting Lara Jean know how he truly felt about the new option. This lack of communication led them into their first real “fight,” and we all know how horrible fighting with your significant other feels. Had they just sat down and talked about it transparently, there’d be none of this confusion about how the other feels. Get me?

Change and adaptation

Like I stated above, the pacing of the book really demonstrated how the characters adapted to change (or even the thought of it.) Margot was beyond critical of Trina when she came home from Scotland, but we soon discover this hostility is due to her feeling like the family moved on without her. We also see that all she really needed was time to familiarize herself with the new atmosphere of her home. Lara Jean having internal conflict about leaving Kitty alone at home after college, but she soon accepts the reality after Trina comes in the picture. Peter’s battle with change is explicit through his feelings regarding preparation for college level lacrosse, and this of course weighed heavily in combination with the whole long distance relationship issue. We even see a bit of humorous/awkward change when Margot brings her boyfriend home and says she wants him to stay in her room! (I had so much second hand embarrassment omg.) My point is, this whole book rests on an inevitably pivotal point of everyone’s lives. And the main lesson to be learned is that it can’t be stopped most time, and you just have to face it with an open heart and mind. It’s this little thing called life.

Other’s opinions and values…it’s complicated.

After a wise word from Trina, an epiphany hits Lara Jean that maybe her mother’s opinion on college and boyfriends would be different had she been alive to meet Peter. It really struck me because I am one to take other’s opinions to heart as well. In combination of keeping her dead mother’s values, and living up to her role model sister’s standards, no wonder Lara Jean was trying to make a “perfect last chapter” for her relationship! She felt obligated to because the figures in her life did so! It’s so important to be your own person and have your own opinions and values. However, that doesn’t mean completely disregard others. (Hence why I put “…too much” for this point.) Having other’s perspective on something can totally give you a deeper understanding of the topic at hand, and overall help you make your decision about how you feel regarding the matter.

TL;DR: Be your own person, but it’s always nice to be considerate of others if their opinions hold value.

So, overall…

I think this book is amazing. Especially (!!) for people like me who are about to be in the same hot water next year. (*cries internally*) Along with the three main lessons I picked out, I once again adore the sisterly love and the introduction of Trina! Her personality is so carefree and optimistic, and I loved seeing her words of wisdom completely open up a new door in LJ’s mind that was always shut in fear of straying from her mom’s warning.

I see a lot of people complaining that LJ never really grew up. Honestly? I think that’s crap. I totally see her mindset shift when she starts to think about the future for herself and not the future for herself + Peter. Let me tell you, that’s a difficult thing to do! The major conflict here is the fact that both things mean so much to her. Of course, if you ask a random person what should come first: a S/O or a college career, odds are they’ll opt for the latter. It’s a natural and kind of socially expected answer. But, when you put yourself in someone else’s shoes, the answer becomes less clear. I think this is a good lesson to stop judging people for being concerned over something you may not understand. Instead, support them by helping them weigh the options, but ultimately let them find the answers for themselves.

Just because I wanted to be extra fancy with this review, I made a mood board! Thank you all for reading! Let me know any of your thoughts on the book in the comments!

“At college, when people ask us how we met, how will we answer them? The short story is, we grew up together. But that’s more Josh’s and my story. High school sweet hearts? That’s Peter and Gen’s story. So what’s our’s, then?  I suppose I’ll say it all started with a love letter.”

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