Thursday, May 11, 2017

Then your heart changes your mind and it changes you: ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #3)Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In the final book of Jenny Han's "To All the Boys I've Loved Before" series, we find our heroine, Lara Jean, in her senior year of high school and facing some big changes: college choices; her dad's impending marriage (yay, Mrs. Rothschild!); and figuring out the fate of her relationship with her handsome high school sweetheart, Peter K. The plan, of course, is for Lara Jean and Peter to head to UVA together. Peter already has a lacrosse scholarship there, and Lara Jean's acceptance email should be arriving any day. Still, Lara Jean is worried about the possibility of change and if things do not go exactly according to her plans.

I can't remember how I stumbled across this series, beloved to me (a mid-thirties lesbian) and teen girls everywhere, but I do have such a soft spot for Lara Jean. My girl is all grown up now! *sniff sniff* I love this series even more because it's basically set in my hometown, and I get to read about references to Bodo's Bagels, UVA and the Rotunda, BBQ Exchange, and more.

The strength of Han's series certainly centers around Lara Jean. She's such a realistic and endearing character, and she's grown and progressed over the three books. I adore her spirit, her love of baking, and her fierce devotion to her family. Indeed, Lara Jean's family is very well fleshed out, and you can so easily visualize each of her sisters and their poor, beleaguered father. Everyone--even our additional supporting characters--feels like family by now.

The hardest part of this book was that it felt a bit like filler. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad Han wrote a third book, and I'm happy to see what happened to Lara Jean, Peter, and the rest of the gang, but it sort of feel like we were killing time for the sake of killing time. There's no major plot impetus beyond college decisions and Mr. Covey's wedding preparations. It ties back to a thread in the first book involving Lara Jean's mom warning about not going to college with a boyfriend (remember Margot and Josh?), but it's a tenuous thread.

Still, this is a sweet book, and I enjoyed most of it, though Peter didn't always seem like his usual self. (I don't enjoy when "stress" is an excuse for guys to treat girls poorly.) I was glad to see Lara Jean stay true to her Lara Jean self: she's just so fun, spunky, and adorable. Han says definitively at the end that she won't write anymore about Lara Jean and even though I felt like this book was a little bit of fluff, I still felt sad reading that, because darnit, it was Lara Jean fluff, and I love her.

You can find my review of the first book in Han's series here and the second here.

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