What to say. I have followed Lara Jean's journey through three books now and this final book hit me in all the right places. Jenny Han did a wonderful job showing a Lara Jean that is on the cusp of adulthood who knows that some things are going to change, but some things no matter what are going to say the same.
"Always and Forever, Lara Jean" shows Lara Jean in her senior year of high school. Lara is focused on getting into UVA. It's been her dream forever to go to that school, and it doesn't hurt that Peter has already gotten into UVA due to an athletic scholarship. However, life throws a monkey wrench into the works (stupid life) and Lara Jean is then forced to make a hard decision about what to do when all of her plans seem to be falling apart.
I honestly only have great things to say about this book. Lara Jean and Peter are wonderful together. Jenny Han shows you this high school relationship and it hits you in all of the right places. For the love of all that is holy people, he wants to learn to braid her hair like her younger sister does. He is always worried that her family doesn't like him. He has not pressured her into having sex with him (and yes Lara Jean's virginity is addressed in this book). He wants to throw her dad a bachelor party in order to impress him. He assures her younger sister that no matter what he will be there no matter what (this in reference to Margot's old boyfriend who has virtually disappeared since they broke up). So here I am reading a book falling more and more in love with a fictional character.
Lara Jean is worried with so many changes that all she can obsess about is baking cookies and her father's wedding. Thank goodness there is no love triangle in this book. She loves Peter and he loves her. But she still has her deceased mother and her sister comments about not going to college with a boyfriend echoing in her head. And she has her sister wanting her to embrace her freedom and not being tied down with a boy.
Can I say I wanted to throttle Margot throughout this book? Book #2 she really ticked me off, but in this book she is insufferable towards her father's fiancee and then tries to throw it in her dad's faces she is having sex with a boy and wants them to stay in the same room. My parents would have snatched my soul out of my body if I had tried that. I think the bigger issue with Margot is that she wants her sisters to do what she did and doesn't seem to get (until the very end) that they are their own people with their own hopes and dreams. Margot's boyfriend was a very nice guy and one wonders how in the world you hooked up with someone so cool.
I sometimes wish that we could gotten a book from Peter's POV through three books just because he is also going through some things during this book that I think that Lara Jean was naive towards, i.e. Peter's father abandoned him and his brother, got remarried, and had two other kids. It always drives me crazy when a character starts telling another character to forgive someone. It's their forgiveness to give, not yours.
The writing was perfect. The book begins with a quote from Anne of Green Gables and ends with one too. The flow was great as well. I maybe had a couple of anxious moments cause Han has Lara Jean do something that is pretty hard for her to take back. I maybe had to break out some wine for the last 10 percent of the book.
This book takes place in Charlottesville, VA. We have references once again towards Margot going to Washington D.C., but I would have loved it if Lara Jean had made mention of what was going on in the U.S. right now. How does she feel about things? The reason why I asked this was because there a few references throughout this book that it definitely takes place in our present time after the election (Margot goes and visits the National Museum of African American History and Culture). Due to Lara Jean and her sisters being half white and Korean I thought that possibly they would feel a little uncomfortable with things in their community and city. Heck, there was a white nationalist protest in Charlottesville a few days ago. That's just a minor quibble though, not enough to have me drop a star.
The ending was great and I loved that not all things were resolved. But I go back to that Anne of Green Gables quote and I feel a lot of hope.