Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han | Rating: ★★★★★
“I guess that's part of growing up, too--saying goodbye to the things you used to love.”
Saying goodbye is hard to do: this is one of the biggest themes of Always and Forever, Lara Jean. As per usual, Jenny Han gracefully tells us a story of love and coming of age.
One of the things that always hits me about Han's writing is how true-to-life the tone is. It's fluffy and simple, but still reminds us the complexities of life. Whether that be our first loves, first heartbreaks, family, graduation, loss or something else entirely--Jenny Han knows exactly what to do to tug at our heartstrings in a way that's realistic and stunning. Lara Jean is a character I will not soon forget... ever. And there were a lot of loose ends to tie up after P.S., I Still Love You, so I am glad to see Lara Jean and Peter's story continue onto the next chapter and reach their conclusion in a way that will be satisfying and bittersweet to their fans.
Always and Forever, Lara Jean sees Lara Jean reaching through her final days of high school and her questions of where life will take her. After her well laid plans go differently than she'd hoped, she is faced with the one question all college bound students face: where am I going? Jenny Han knows how to express a young adult characters voice perfectly and in that she provides a voice for all the girls who are reading the novel and growing up side-by-side with Lara Jean.
Known for the general fluffiness and romance, Lara Jean and Peter are together in the ways that only they can be. There are so few relationships I root for in fictional pieces that take place in the age of in betweens that it is our teenage years, but there's something about the two that you can't help but want to see last. Saying goodbye to them was going to be hard without question--I've come to love them like lifelong friends. Always and Forever, Lara Jean sees them through the next phase of their lives and leaves readers feeling hopeful for their future.
Obstacles and angst come about for the two; much like life itself, and just when readers feel like they are questioning their fate--Jenny Han comes through to us. What's always important for me about the two is that they are not like the other couples in life. They are, at their core, but if there's one thing that leads us to optimistic beliefs of whether or not their relationship will last long distance, it's the connection--and love--they share for one another. I'm not even kidding you when I say that the older I get, the more of the warm and fuzzies I get about these two.
There is so much to be said about the conclusion to this much beloved series and I can't share much without spoiling, well, everything. I will say I loved the way it rings in our lives and the unexpected turns we all face when our plains don't go the way we hope. How sometimes it's for the best. How sometimes we meet the people we're meant to be with, or know, young. And how not one person's story is the same.
What's certain is Lara Jean and Peter are not your ordinary high school couple. If anyone can do it, can work through the distance and kinks, it's them.
As always there was a lot of cuteness in this farewell. I loved the way the family tied up nicely for a wedding (spoilers: it's not any of the sisters) and had their difficulties. I love that Peter gets on so nicely with Lara Jean's family and the way it felt was just... like a match made in heaven. Seriously. Sweetness overload--and I don't just mean Lara Jean's ever-present love of baking.
There was so much hopefulness and love to every element of this story.
From family to friends to significant others.
I should also warn you to keep a box of tissues nearby. Not only is the novel bittersweet, there is a bit of a chance that you will cry during various moments. Happiness and otherwise. That's the best thing about Jenny Han's words: they have the ability to move readers in a way that only intimate novels do.
I loved every moment of it and can't think of a better ending to such a beautifully crafted, heartfelt series. I'm going to miss Lara Jean. I'm going to miss Peter. I'm going to miss Margot and Kitty and the entire family. I'm going to revisit them soon, like an old friend popping around to say hey. And although the series is ending, my love for it never will.
That's not a tear in my eye, readers.
It's only allergies.
Thank you, Jenny Han.