Friday, July 28, 2017

Always and Forever, Lara Jean, by Jenny Han

Lara Jean is almost done with high school and her plan to attend UVA with Peter is well on its way.  That is, until she is turned down.  Coming up with Plan B changes the picture greatly and Lara Jean, who always likes to have everything figured out, is surprised to find that new doors truly do open when old ones close.  Meanwhile, Dad and Trina are finally getting married, and older sister Margot is none too happy about the changes.

There isn't much of a theme to this conclusion of the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series, as much as a grand housekeeping and capstone of the tale.  As a way to once again experience the Song sisters and their family and friends, this is a delightful continuation of a well-loved series.  But as a literary work in its own right, it has little new to offer.

Still, I always enjoy Jenny Han's books.  She continues to be a master at depicting characters from different generations in a respectful and honest way.  Her kids are kids and her adults are adults.  No one is perfect, but no one is a straw man either.  The subplot involving the tensions between Trina and Margot is particularly noteworthy.  Truth be told, neither adult nor child behave well and Han just presents it warts and all.  In a similar vein, Lara Jean and Peter's relationship continues to evolve as it is stressed by their impending separation in crowd-pleasing, yet realistic ways.  In general, Han doesn't do dull or shallow characters, but instead populates her stories with people of all ages who are believable and interesting.

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