To All the Boys I've Loved Before Series
For whatever reason I have put off reading this series, and I am actually glad I did. Not because I didn't like it, I actually loved it, but because if I had to wait for the second and third book to release and wonder what's happening with Lara Jean's lovelife, I would be stressed! So, I cruised through these three this week and chose to review them as a collective unit instead of independently.
"What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?
Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control." - Goodreads
P.S. I Still Love You - 2015
"Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter. She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever. When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?
In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I've Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing." - Goodreads
"Lara Jean is having the best senior year. And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.
Life couldn’t be more perfect!
At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks…until she gets some unexpected news.
Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?" - Goodreads
WHAT I LIKED
Lara Jean is super into baking, and everytime I sat down to read one of these books I immediately was inspired to bake...or to just eat cookies. When I finished Always and Forever, Lara Jean, I attempted to make lace cookies, a recipe I've been trying for years and just can't master; it did not work out. I am not gifted in the kitchen like Lara Jean.
The family dynamic is incredible. Lara Jean's mom died when she was young and she has grown up with her older sister, Margot, younger sister, Kitty, and her dad. Lara Jean's mom was Korean, and while her dad is not, they have done a nice job up maintaining their Korean roots through holiday traditions and especially food. The girls get along very well (most of the time) and are respectful toward their dad, not the least bit rebellious. (Spoiler) When their dad decides to start dating again the girls are so excited and kind...well, except Margot.
I loved Peter, one of Lara Jean's crushes for the entirety of book one and two. He kind of annoyed me in book three, but he was such a doll for the second book, and in the first I was just really rooting for him. I love that such a popular, outgoing boy is giving goodie-two-shoes Lara Jean a run for her money.
Katherine, better known as Kitty. In the first book she's endearing, but in the second book she actually made me laugh. She's witty, clever and wise beyond her years, mostly because she watches a lot of Netflix that is certainly not age-appropriate. All of the boys who make their way into the series have to win Kitty over, and I love that Lara Jean makes that such a priority.
Not only are the girls growing up throughout the three books (Lara Jean goes from 16-18), but they're also still very much so dealing with the absence of their mom. Their mom once told them to never go to college with a boyfriend, and Lara Jean is plagued by that advice. It nearly destroys a relationship for her, and it does for Margot.
In the second book Lara Jean spends a night trapped in a nursing home due to an April snow storm; we just recently had a snow day in April here, so it made that part a little more special. She's dressed up in 40s clothing, she's planned a party for the elderly folks she volunteers to help and one of her crushes is there to play with her in the snow. It's divine.
Though it's a little cheesy, I love a good YA romance and this series didn't disappoint. (Spoiler) I will admit to being, at one point or another, Team Josh, Team Peter and Team John Ambrose McLaren, but I think that just means it's well done. When you're young you should have a lot of crushes. You should just hope and pray that if you write them secret love letters that they don't accidentally get mailed out years later! Can you imagine!?
WHAT I DID NOT LIKE
The third book kind of dragged for me. I liked it just fine, but I wasn't devouring it like I did the first and second book. I think that's partly because it doesn't have much of a plot. Lara Jean bakes, she worries about college, she chooses a college, and she continues to deal with not having a mom. But there isn't a ton of action or drama. There are little fights here and there, but nothing like in books one and two. However, I loved some of the family elements in this one and am happy with how it ended.
Genevieve. Ugh. What a controlling and manipulative young girl! Well done, Han, I know that was the point.
I think I was supposed to like Margot more than I actually did. Lara Jean is SO close to her in the first book, but when Margot leaves the country I was sort of relieved. She's such an arrogant girl. And kinda selfish. Everyone has to tiptoe around her so that they don't make her mad, and Lara Jean and Kitty are so easy going.
I'm always a little disappointed when I like supporting characters more than the main character, which was the case in this series. Peter, John Ambrose McClaren, Kitty and Chris were just so full of personality, and Lara Jean was just kind of a pushover.
I would give book one a 4/5, book two a 5/5 and book three a 3/5 for an overall rating of:
I liked this series enough to immediately order Jenny Han's other books to put in my classroom. Fans of Kasie West's books and anyone who wants a good love story would love this series!