I was really excited to read Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han. This book forms the final chapter in the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy and I was desperate to know how Lara Jean’s story was going to conclude and also a little sad because it was to be the last book with these wonderful characters.
Picking up shortly after the end of P.S. I Still Love You, the second book in the trilogy, we find Lara Jean living through her senior year of high school and going through all the rights of passage that come with that event such as college applications and decision making about her future, graduation, prom and her final summer at home before she leaves to go to college. She is still very much in a relationship with Peter Kavinsky and they are a great couple but they are facing questions about how things will change when they both go to college and bearing in mind that Lara Jean’s mom always used to say that you should never go to college with a boyfriend.
What continues to make these books special though is all the accompanying events that run alongside those related to Lara Jean herself. The thing I have enjoyed most about this trilogy is the fact that it has remained very much invested in the emotions and dynamics of Lara Jean’s family. Margot, her elder sister, is still away at St Andrew’s University, little sister Kitty is feisty and confident and preparing to enter puberty and their dad has fallen in love with their neighbour across the street and is for the first time finding happiness himself away from his precious girls.
This entire series has stood on the strength of Han’s character writing, we really root for all of the characters, not just Lara Jean. I love Kitty, she has remained a high point through all of the books. There are difficult transitions for Margot in this book as she finds family dynamics changed by her father’s new relationships when she comes home and your heart breaks for her as she tries to adapt. We also have those little family moments that they navigate together like when Margot brings her college boyfriend home and pushes the boundaries by saying he won’t sleep in the guest room but with her, leaving her father upset and angry.
This book does take us on a rollercoaster journey, we share in Lara Jean and Peter’s planning as the plan to go to the same college but then are devastated (if not surprised) when that doesn’t work out and then we find ourselves praying Lara Jean finds the right place for her to be in the year ahead without being too focused on her relationship alone.
It’s a book about endings, moving on in life and the excitement of the future even though it can sometimes be terrifying. It was a wonderful ending to the stories and I will sorely miss Lara Jean and her crazy family and all her friends. It felt like there could or should be more but at this point I know there are no plans to continue the story but I will always wonder how Lara Jean enjoyed Korea, how did she settle at college, how does Kitty fare when her big sister leaves home and whether she and Peter manage to stay together forever. I’ll miss you, Lara Jean.