trilogy review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before, P.S. I Still Love You & Always and Forever, Lara Jean


“My letters are for when I don't want to be in love anymore. They're for good-bye. Because after I write in my letter, I'm not longer consumed by my all-consuming love...My letters set me free. Or at least they're supposed to.” 
― Jenny Han, To All the Boys I've Loved Before

Note: Welcome to my first trilogy review! I have three individual reviews here all rounded up and (hopefully) flow well together. No spoilers here! Anyway, I recently reread the Lara Jean trilogy, in celebration of the (new!) third book. It's been so long since I first read Lara's story and going back to her trilogy made me happy. Yes, I do have some problems but overall, the trilogy makes me smile. Haters exit on the left please haha. So without further ado, here are all my thoughts on the Lara Jean trilogy.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han 
Publication Date: April 15th 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 355
Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before (#1)
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, YA

Lara Jean 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 can pour out her heart and soul and say all the things she would never say in real life. Her letters are for her eyes only. Then her secret letters are mailed and suddenly Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

A strong, lovable start to Lara Jean's life! 

When I was reading To All the Boys I've Loved Before (for the first time), I remember really disliking Lara Jean. As I quote here - "Her personality was ugh". To be more detailed, I found Lara to be annoying and childish. Now, after my reread, I like her better! I understand her better. Lara Jean is shy but really fun and bubbly. She still can be childish but I can compromise. The atmosphere she grew up in made her childish - she always had someone there to help her.

Can you tell that I'm a little too deep in the rabbit hole?!


Lara Jean isn't just childish tho - she's definitely a family person, which is something I will always love about her. Her family is amazing. They do have their family fights but they always come back together. The Song sisters are amazing too! Kitty is such a Slytherin omg, I love her. But I didn't like Margot at first (especially when she came back home from college) but, after that ending, I understood. Then we have Lara Jean's boys (the letters). The letter boys (hehe) all come back at some point. But Peter and Josh are the main focuses in TATBILB. Now, this is where things get complicated.

Josh used to be Margot's boyfriend ... nobody exactly knew Lara had a crush on him. Awkward. And well, Peter is the most popular guy in school and use to date the most popular girl in school. Popular girl still has dibs on him. But Lara Jean takes her chances and starts a "fake" relationship with Peter - to save his and her butts. That's basically the plot line haha. It is a bit messy and it does take on some drama but it's worth it ya'll!

Anyway, back to the boys, they're a bit stereotyped but I like them. I mean, all in all, I enjoy all the characters in this first book. They all have their own flaws and their backstories which are shared. Secondary characters always make a comeback in this trilogy. (I appreciate that so much!) Hold up tho: Can we talk about Jenny Han's writing?! I feel like her writing isn't acknowledged enough. It's really good. Very detailed and chic - perfect for contemporaries ha.

OVERALL

If you do read To All the Boys I've Loved Before and start this trilogy - you have to understand it will include drama and stereotypes ... but honestly? That's the charm of Lara Jean's trilogy. Enjoy the high school sweetheart drama (I mean she's only a sophomore in this first book but)! So if you're looking for a deep and meaningful contemporary then skip this. But if you're looking for a lovable, romantic contemporary then yeah! Recommended! (in that case)

TATBILB was such a lovely start. I really had no problems with it second time around. But my thoughts on P.S. I Still Love You haven't changed that much ...



P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han 
Publication Date: May 26th 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 
Pages: 337
Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before (#2) 
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, YA

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?

The weak, unsatisfying sequel to Lara Jean's life.

I was disappointed in PSISLY. But I couldn't remember why? (This was extremely weird for me) Before my reread, I just remembered this gut feeling that this sequel didn't work out for me. Then, when I reached the halfway point in my reread, everything came back to me. This book took everything up a level. Drama! Boys! Love! Cookies! Drama! I was so overwhelmed and ended up being disappointed. Yikes.

Why do sequels suck for me?!


It's really amazing what sequels can do. Personally? I feel like PSISLY just came in and steam rolled over the progress the first book made. I mean, first off, I felt disconnected from the characters. They weren't exactly themselves .. they all got to be whiny, unpatient and unhappy. What the heck?! What happened to my cute, sweet characters? It really got bad, especially for Lara Jean. In the ending, our little junior had a love triangle to deal with. Ugh, you know, while reading TATBILB ... I was really hoping for no love triangles. The idea for this book was fresh (at the time for me) and I didn't want the plot to get weak but it did. I really felt like the characters could have dealt with their problems (including the love triangle) differently.

And, because of this love triangle, we also got a lot of flashbacks. It was really confusing because Lara Jean (the one projecting the flashbacks) couldn't decide on her past or current feelings. Like seriously? We are in the present, work with your current feelings. We made progress in the first book - why couldn't we continue that? Why bring up the past so much? When this old, neighborhood boy (John) comes back, everything really goes backwards ... even though his character is this sweet, organized boy. Oh the irony.

So remember when I said "Enjoy the high school sweetheart drama!" uh well, this sequel really pushed that. Everyone has their limits, meaning I have a limit with highschool drama. This book got to my limit. I keep quoting myself (sorry!) but this statement: "That's the charm of Lara Jean's trilogy" felt so untrue with this book. PSISLY didn't have that fun, drama charm - it was annoying! We had unnecessary clichés and drama (drAMA to fill up some plot points - yeah I saw this.) The plot also felt so forced and thE DOG DISAPPEARED WE NEVER SAW THE DOG I JUST REMEMBERED THIS OMG. Double yikes.

While I could keep ranting here, I do have some positive stuff haha. Lots of treats were mentioned (!!!) and the writing was still great. The first half was actually okay but the second half is when everything went downhill.

OVERALL

So you're probably now REALLY debating if you should read this trilogy haha. TATBILB was great but PSISLY was ehhh for me. But, like I said before: "Everyone has their limits, meaning I have a limit with highschool drama." This book got to my limit. Your limit may go much further than mine! That's perfectly fine. I mean, would you enjoy more drama? Are you okay with clichés? Plus if you disliked the first book then you might really like the second book! It was completely different. In the end, fellow bookaholic, it's up to you. I'm just stating my opinion and you can take it or not.


Now, after PSISLY, I was like "I'm done with Lara Jean". *glances at Always and Forever, Lara Jean* I was relieved to find a third book coming into Lara Jean's life because that duology ending sucked. But was it going to get better or worse? 



Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han 
Publication Date: May 2nd 2017 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 
Pages: 336
Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before (#3) 
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, YA

Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

The forever, triumphant finale of Lara Jean's tale.

I JUST FINISHED THIS BOOK A FEW MINUTES AGO AND I'M HAVING FEELS. I feel so content with this ending and I'm just so happy?! I'm a bit melancholy tho because this was it, the end of Lara Jean. But I know I'll be able to let her go. I'm satisfied. :,)


Let's start with the beloved characters. We gained and lost some characters in this finale but it felt all natural. Lara Jean and her friends are moving on to their own paths, may that be college or Costa Rica. We saw each character grow into their final highschool stage and I just wanted to cry. The character growth in this book was amazing! Lara Jean took so many big steps (by herself!) and I was so happy for her. Her relationship with Peter was so well done. I was a little taken back by their relationship since the relationship hit many plot holes. I really didn't know what was going to happen to them. But I am very happy where they are now.

The plot itself focused on many aspects (WHICH I LOVED) like Lara Jean's family, friends, her relationships, and her future. It was very nice to get a broad view of everything. It never really felt cheesy? Still super cute but it felt very realistic and that's always a key thing in contemporaries. The writing was still spot on and WE SAW THE DOG AGAIN YAY. Also Lara Jean's family was still super aesthetic and we had more treats. We did have some old memories come back but all-in-all, this book was about moving on and that's what I wanted.

OVERALL

This was really short but I don't know what else to say. I only had a few, negative small details but I honestly don't care at this point. I'm so happy with Always and Forever, Lara Jean and I just wanna smile! Again, I would totally recommend this trilogy if you're looking for a lovable, romantic contemporaries. You'll (hopefully!) fall in love with Lara Jean and her love letters.

TRIGGER WARNINGS:

(For all three books)

- Swearing
- Slurs
- (Discussions of) Sex
- Mentioned/minor scenes of death and vomiting

Don't hesitate if you need more information on how much of these topics are covered in the book(s).
My email is always open at browneyedbibliophile@yahoo.com


I know a lot of people are reading AAFLA right now so I guess this is a nice recap. Anyway, have YOU read Lara Jean? If not, are you? How do you feel about this trilogy? Also let's put the main characters in Lara Jean's story in Hogwart houses! (Lara, Kitty, Margot, Peter) I'm going to take a nap.


 photo Anna sigh off _zpsldolpi09.png

14 comments

  1. i'm glad you enjoyed them! i also dislike lara and margot at the beginning, but they did grew on me! i'm actually the opposite of you in psisly, i mean, i hate the drama and the angst, but i really like the addition of john! it gives us more picture on how lara's childhood gang was, i can't wait to see more of him. i need to do re-read before reading the 3rd, i'm definitely overdue for that :) great review anna! <3

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    1. Me too! I get that, I honestly felt a little sad when John moved on because he was so nice hehe. That's very true! Have fun with your reread, Tasya. :D

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  2. I'm guessing you know how I feel about this series by now haha! But seriously, this series was like the warm comfy blanket that I can always go back on and I'll probably reread it soon. I didn't know that you had mixed thoughts on the second book!! I can kinda see how it didn't live up to the first, but honestly this series just has me wrapped around its finger that I just didn't care lol. I didn't really see it as a love triangle because I think I already knew who she was gonna end up with. It seemed like a minor obstacle than a huge decision for her, if that makes sense.

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    1. I think so haha! I know right?! I giggle and smile so much while reading Lara Jean. I can see where you're coming from, just from my perspective .. it seemed like an obstacle for her. Thanks for the comment, Emily!

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  3. I think I've read the first book of the series a long time ago, but it's been so long I hardly remember any of it. ^.^' I really should get on rereading and revisiting Lara Jean again-- even if the second book sags, if the third book redeems it (ahem ahEM have you finished the Legend trilogy yet?) then it should make up for it!

    xoxo Abigail Lennah

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    1. Yay! I hope you enjoy your Lara Jean reread then, Abigail. (nO BUT I WILL DON'T WORRY)

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  4. I really looking forward to Always and Forever, Lara Jean! I enjoyed the first two books, and am really looking forward to the third one :-)

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  5. Hahah, I love the mixed feels about this review. To be honest, since the first book, I've enjoyed reading it! My favorite one is actually P.S.: I Still Love You, but I understand that the high school drama is not for everyone. I think that one was my favorite because I could relate to the characters, mainly with their insecurities and flaws. But the third book was such a fantastic conclusion! Lara Jean goes through a great development and it was awesome to follow that.
    (And if I had to sort these characters into houses: Kitty - a Slytherin, ofc. Margot - Ravenclaw. And Peter: Gryffindor, hahah.)

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    1. Aw haha thanks. Good for you! I'm glad you enjoyed the trilogy. The third book was so fantastic - the cutest conclusion! Thanks for the comment, Lais.

      (I agree! I think Lara Jean is a Hufflepuff.)

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  6. I feel so out of the loop on this trilogy lately! I used to have it on my TBR for ages but when I finally picked it up I got about a chapter in before I just knew it wasn't for me. I don't like contemporaries or romance usually, and the writing just felt off to me. But maybe I should try it again? Everyone has been raving about them lately, although the drama of the second book does put me off a little. Awesome reviews, Anna!

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    1. It's definitely a romantic story but there are other key things like Lara Jean's family and friends - great plot balance in the first and third book. I recommend you pick up TATBILB when you're in a contemporary mood. Because I know you're more of a fantasy person. :D Thank you so much, Erin!

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  7. Ah, I love how you divided and conducted this trilogy review! I loooooved the first book, honestly, I read it in one sitting (and that NEVER happens). But just like you, the sequel was so deeply unsatisfying and annoying, and I didn't understand how a book that was so good could have such a weak sequel. But knowing that you felt the same way about the second book, but really enjoyed the third one gives me hope. I have Always & Forever sitting on my shelf; hopefully I'll get to it super soon. Great review, once again. :)

    ~ Aimal @ Bookshelves & Paperbacks

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    1. Thank you, Aimal! I'm glad you agree with me, especially on the second book hehe. I'm sure you will! Enjoy. :D

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