Saturday, 29 April 2017

To All The Books I've Loved Before: A Review of the Lara Jean Series

Such adorable covers, too.
The Lara Jean series is a trilogy by Jenny Han, starring half-Korean Lara Jean Song Covey. It consists of To All The Boys I've Loved Before, P.S. I Still Love You and Always and Forever, Lara Jean. Lara Jean has written letters to boys she's had a crush on, places them in an addressed envelope and puts them in a hatbox. Naturally, they are sent out at one point.

Lara Jean is an endearing protagonist. She's cute, girly and utterly adorable. She likes to bake and volunteers at a care home. She's not strong in the survive-an-apocalypse sense (although if it happens I think she'd give it a rather decent go) but strong in dealing with personal problems. Her anxieties actually make her more relatable to people of today. She's scared of owning up to her emotions and a nervous driver. Her older sister, Margot, comes of as sanctimonious at times in dealing with her, but obviously loves her younger sisters. Understandably so, since ever since her mother's death, Margot has been filling that role. Kitty, the youngest Song girl, is a bratty younger sibling in the best possible way.

In the first book, Lara Jean is dealing with her sister moving away to college. Her sister is starting at St. Andrews in Scotland, which of course means she gets a posh roommate. At one point, she asks to be sent Oreo's, which are easy to get over here, but this is such a minor detail that I'll let it slide. It ends on an unfinished note - like it was written for a sequel. I also don't think I'll ever understand sisters. I don't know if I could forgive so easily what happens between them in this book. Maybe the closest I'll ever come is through reading, because reading is good at allowing you to understand different lives you wouldn't normally.

P.S. I Still Love You continues right where the first book left off, so while I don't recommend this often, I think you shouldn't read this one until you've read the first one. It deals with something that wasn't as big a deal even 10 years ago when I was in school, but is a growing problem now - cyberbullying. It also tackles issues of girls being shamed for having sex, more so then boys. Everyone from her father to her peers seems to judge Lara Jean for the video, when it wasn't her fault at all. Lara Jean never judges other girls for having sex, just that she's made her own decision that she's not ready for it yet. It does contain a love triangle, which I dislike on principle, and in this one I actually preferred the boy she didn't end up with!

P.S. I Still Love You has one of my favourite quotes - "I guess you could call me a late bloomer, but that implies we're all on some kind of predetermined blooming schedule, that there's a right and wrong way to be sixteen and in love with a boy."

In Always and Forever, Lara Jean, Margot has a new boyfriend from England, which of course means he has a posh accent. Despite being from London? And he says cheers, which I've literally never heard anyone say, ever? Alright, minor detail in an otherwise great book. I am so proud of Lara Jean and the decisions she makes. Because of the first two being continuous, you don't really get a sense of her ongoing character development. Here, she's really grown up, and it shows. It does end well, but not necessarily in the way you'd expect. It makes a satisfying conclusion to her story.

Warning - these books will make you hungry. With Lara Jean's baking and her Dad attempting to cook Korean food on occasion, they're best read with a snack nearby.

This is actually one of my favourite contemporary Young Adult series that I've read. I recommend it to anyone with a more feminine side, who might identify with Lara Jean.

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