“No matter what happens to us in the future, this time was ours.”
Reality bites at this third and final book in the TOTBILB series. Nothing is so certain anymore – not the “college future,” nor the couple life of Lara Jean and Peter.
I will only share my opinions of the book, cleanly divided into 2 different sections: WHAT I LIKE and WHAT I DISLIKE.
Let’s get to it. What about Always and Forever, Lara Jean:
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?
WHAT I LIKE:
Growing Family: Woot! The single dad has finally found a new partner! The tension is real between Margot and Trina (‘cos not every daughter wants to see someone take the place of the OG mom), but little Kitty’s just star-eyed to have someone to care for and guide her. Personal opinion – it’s a nice breather to see LJ’s dad have someone by his side. But I didn’t really expect it to be Trina, since she’s practically an “inside joke” type of neighbor for the Song girls. But I guess the author didn’t have enough room to introduce a new love interest that the readers will grow to like. Trina is the safe (and simplest) solution, that’s all.
The Scheming Kitty: The youngest Song girl has a habit of sticking her nose into her family’s love affairs. She is not totally manipulative – if anything, she’s this grand schemer who tugs a couple of strings before watching her “love puppets” develop a beautiful romance. Do you get me? Kind of like the initiator, but never the charger. Kitty was behind Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship status. She did it again here in this book with her dad and their “always-spilling-coffee” neighbor Trina Rothschild (I actually thought they hated her).
WHAT I DISLIKE:
Lots of Fillers: There are scenes in the TOTBILB series, which you think would be important, or relevant to the story, but soon enough you’ll find – it’s really not. It will take up a half page, or even a full page of text, though. For example, Kitty’s choice of wearing a tuxedo instead of going for an ethereal and celestial outfit (matchy with her sisters) at the wedding. I thought, “The issue is taking so much space. Perhaps there’s a deeper issue lying underneath, like, what if Kitty’s conforming to the masculine clothing to disrupt the gender code and display a powerful statement?” No, none of that. The tuxedo dilemma was just added to fill up the ending chapter. This probably isn’t the best example, (maybe it’s Lara Jean’s baking scenes??) but you’ll read more about it in the 3 books. I am sure.
Plot: You can just read the synopsis of the book if you want to avoid the play-by-play of LJ’s days, which can be summed up in three words: college, family, and Peter. The book was basically about the two taking a big step towards the real world, and endangering their relationship in the process. For me, Always and Forever, Lara Jean is the most grounded and realistic one in the series, but I still wish that the characters were more productive as this was the finality of the whole TOTBILB. Jamie Fox-Pickle was a big deal in the second book, but not anymore. I respect how the author decided to let Lara Jean go her own path (and not just to be with Peter) by studying in a different school – that gives us a future of unknown. Exciting. During the wedding, LJ and Peter made up in a very abrupt manner (so again, WHY??). When did it become a good idea to antagonize Peter’s mom? And Margot too for some time? Peter was becoming a pain to read. Honestly, I can get by without the third book since Jenny Han originally planned for a duology.
Rating: 2.5/5 Going for a neutral rating, because I appreciate how this book painted a realistic picture/conclusion of the series.
Click here to read my review of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Click here to read my review of P.S. I Still Love You