Reader Review: Always And Forever, Lara Jean – Jenny Han
Always And Forever, Lara Jean: ★★★★
I knew that I was going to read this book after finishing off the previous two in the series and reviewing them in a fairly good light. Therefore, it only made sense for me to grab a hold of a copy of the last book and give it a give it the read that I think it deserved, even if I still maintain that the genre and storyline isn’t the type of thing that I would usually find myself leaning towards.
In this book, the plot follows the story of our reoccurring main character Lara Jean as she finishes off her senior year. Everything seems to be going smoothly with her family, her boyfriend, and her plans for college until she gets some news that makes her rethink her future altogether. Thrown into the unknown and faced with difficult decisions, Lara Jean once again has to juggle her relationship with her boyfriend and her sisters, plan her father’s wedding, and try to figure out where her heart truly lies for the future.
Knowing the two previous books rather well at this point, I did have expectations when I began reading the third book. However, those expectations were mainly focused around the tone of the book as I was expecting this continuation of the series to follow the same nature and writing style, as well as including the same cliches and tropes. In this regard, I was expecting to be rather annoyed by the way that Lara Jean acts as I, personally, have found that she acts much younger than she is intended to come across. However, this was, surprisingly, not the case in this last book, which I think nicely speaks to the character development and the growth of the overall series in general.
From the start of the book, I picked up on the fact that it seemed a lot more ‘mature’ in the sense of how it was set out and how it progressed. The monologue and point of view of Lara Jean is definitely more reflective of her actual age in the last book and she seems a lot less childish. The character maintains her ‘quirks’ (as she likes to be seen as) along with her personal interests and hobbies, but her general characterisation feels as if she has indeed ‘grown up’. Though, I believe that this is not at all a bad thing as it actually made me enjoy the character a lot more. I felt as if she was facing relatable situations and her emotions were conveyed in a more realistic sense, so this growth of her character definitely adds more depth and perspective to her directly. Young adult readers are going to be able to experience what she’s feeling more directly because they’re more likely to find themselves in similar scenarios and thinking similar thoughts, so that bond with the character is evidently strengthened. It’s well written – you can follow the character growth which involves the reader even further and it’s endlessly easy to get wrapped up in. Even though the style of the character has changed in this way, the tone of the narrative has been maintained so there is that obvious continuity throughout the entirety of the series. It’s still just as interesting and does just as good of a job as maintaining the interest of the audience as the other books, which made the final book feel familiar for the readers as well.
One of my favourite things about the series is the sister relationships and how they’re conveyed, so I was happy to see that this was featured in the last book just as much as it is in the first 2 books. So much of the story and the characterisations are indeed focused around the bonds that the family has and that the sisters share (their conflicting personalities just make their interactions ever the more interesting to experience) so this was definitely something that appealed to me as a reader. The relationships are also introduced and evident throughout the storyline from the very start, so that grabs the audience’s attention if nothing else. Another similar element to the plot of this third book that I liked was the fact that it was more focused on Lara Jean’s own personal life and her goals rather than just her romantic relationship. The romance still obviously plays a big part in the overall storyline, but I enjoyed expanding and looking into the different types of friendships that are showcased throughout.
The casual environments and situations that are presented throughout the whole book – like the simple scenes with Lara Jean baking at midnight or just simply interacting with her family – are what, I feel, make the series special. It gives the book and the narrative a wholesome and caring nature which is easy for the audience to get immersed and lost in. It’s a good distraction from the audiences own lives, which is one of the biggest selling points of the series itself. It’s comforting and easy to read, and I found myself relating to a lot of the worries and thoughts that the characters were having. Once again, I found myself being comforted by conversations they were having about their prospective futures and plans because, as a young adult myself, I know how it feels to have no idea what you’re doing or where you’re going. It was nice to be reminded that I’m not alone in that.
Again, the series wasn’t perfect. It still isn’t my favourite type of genre and I still found myself getting slightly bored of the same tropes being repeated and the same cliches making appearances. Though, yet again, this is indeed something that I was expecting when I went into reading the third book as these are things that I picked up on previously, so I knew what the case would be. Some of the scenes held less interest, and some of them seemed too ‘perfect’ to be relatable and realistic, though, again, this isn’t something that surprised me and so I wasn’t disappointed.
Throughout the duration of the plot, the writing maintains the audience’s attention as it’s descriptive and immersive. The dialogue and the character interactions were nice to witness and it makes the audience feel involved as the book offers a lot of insight into the lives of the characters, their feelings, and the events they find themselves in.
I liked the ending quite a lot actually. I felt as if it was a good round-off to the series that brought questions to a close but left the future of the characters and the plot to be determined by the reader themselves. It felt like it was coming to an end nicely and I generally think it was a well-written send off which doesn’t leave the audience feeling as if the story is completely open-ended. It wasn’t disappointing – it lived up to the rest of the series and the storylines, and the characterisation conclusion is nice as well.
To put it simply; this final book is actually probably my favourite out of the entire series due to the fact that this is really the book where you get to see the main character grow and flourish into who she’s meant to be. It takes on a more adult, mature tone, but maintains all the aspects of the plot which make the characterisation, narrative, and tone of the series so appealing and special for so many audiences. There are expected cliches and tropes which occasionally made me roll my eyes, but I was able to get lost in the story and the many relationships it featured.
Thanks for reading this short review and I’ll write you later.
If you’re a fan of the previous two books in the series, then I definitely think you’ll be pleased with the ending that this one provides. It shows how much the series, as well as the characters, has grown and is really a pleasure to read.
If you’re a fan of young romance and experiencing characters trying to figure out their own lives and come to terms with who they really are, then give this series a shot – it’s definitely worth it.