Always and Forever, Lara Jean (Jenny Han)

Always and Forever, Lara Jean is the third (and last) novel in the To All the Boys series by Jenny Han.
Finished on: 12.4.2020
[Here are my reviews of the other two novels.]

Everything is good for Lara Jean and Peter, but as they are nearing the end of their final year of high school things are bound to change – and the question is whether they can actually change for the better. Lara Jean has a clear plan: she will attend college together with Peter at UVA, so she can still be home a lot and be with him and have as little change in her life as possible. But when she isn’t actually accepted at UVA, Lara Jean has to figure out how to deal with the bigger changes – and Peter, too, of course.

Always and Fover, Lara Jean may have taken me a little longer to get into than the other two novels in the series, but once it hits its stride, it grabbed me again and gave me a beautiful sense of closure (as much as you can give closure to a love story between teens) for the series.

The book cover showing a girl in white dress sitting in front of a vanity mirror.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean was probably the novel least focused on romance of the three so far. Instead, it’s much more about Lara Jean finding her footing and being able to accept change – something that doesn’t come naturally to her, prone as she has always been to holding on to the old things. The end of school the start of university pushes her to change and accept that change is part of life.

But at the same time, the novel isn’t advocating change just for change’s sake or throwing everything out that is good. Also, continuing a theme from the earlier novels, it acknowledges that living life doesn’t just include change as a necessity, but also pain as an inevitability. Ultimately Lara Jean’s first impulse is always (understandably) to avoid pain by sticking with what is familiar and can be planned. And in this novel, she can’t do that (just as she couldn’t before).

I’m not sure why it took me a little longer than I expected to find my way into the story, but once I did, I was all there, emotionally involved and reading through it quickly. And in the end, I did shed some tears. It’s sad to think that there won’t be a new chapter written for Lara Jean and Peter, but at the same time, Han managed to give them a beautiful ending (and I was worried until the last few pages that things might go down differently).

It’s nice to read a trilogy that is so consistently sweet and nice to read, and that is so insightful regarding the inner (emotional) life of its characters. I closed this one with the best kind of sigh.

Summarizing: beautiful ending to a trilogy of keepers.

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