Sunday, September 25, 2016

Book Review: P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before #2) by Jenny Han

Release date: May 26, 2015
Author links: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 352

Description (from Goodreads):

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I've Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

P.S. I Still Love You continues from where To All The Boys I've Left Before ends. Lara Jean's fake relationship with Peter is over and while she tried her best not to actually fall for him, she failed, because Peter is all she can think about. When it seems like Peter has a hard time forgetting Lara Jean too, they get together and for a while, everything seems perfect. But then someone from Lara Jean's past, someone she never really had closure with, returns and suddenly Lara Jean finds herself confused and not quite sure about the decision she has made.

As I mentioned in my review for To All The Boys I've Loved Before, I think this necessarily wouldn't have had to be a series. By ending the story where the first book ends or by adding a few more chapters, Jenny Han could have finished the story in a satisfying manner. While I am not one for series, mostly because I suck keeping up with them, I think P.S. I Still Love you a satisfying continuation to the story. Do we really need a book three? Not sure. But I will definitely look forward to seeing what readers think about the upcoming third book.

The element that really made me fall in love with the first book and with this one as well are the characters, especially Lara Jean and her sisters. Lara Jean is such a likable, relatable character to spend time with -- she is confused as hell most of the time, but who wasn't as a teenager? She questions her thoughts, actions, and decisions all the time and while she might try to deny it at times, what other people think of her is extremely important to her. I think through the element of bullying this book introduces Jenny Han taps quite well into what it is like to be a girl in high school and how differently boys and girls are treated when it comes to things like sexuality and relationships. 

I know Peter is a fan favorite, but I honestly feel nothing towards him. If I would have been looking for a purely romantic YA contemporary, I probably wouldn't have liked this series at all, because I think Peter is kind of the worst most of the time. He is less absent than present, spends more time with his ex (yes, he is comforting her as a friend, but still) and at least occasionally treats Lara Jean as someone who is obviously going to wait for him to do his thing because "girls like her" don't usually date guys like him. Yes, there might be some chemistry between the two when they actually spend time together, but I just constantly kept thinking that Lara Jean could do better.

The guy from her past is kind of the opposite of Peter in many ways -- he is willing to give all of his attention to Lara Jean and clearly has no other girls in his mind. But in some way, he is this dream-like figure, almost too perfect. Lara Jean has fun with him, but none of it really feels real, if you know what I mean. 

One of the absolute treasures of his book is Stormy, a woman who lives in the nursing home Lara Jean volunteers at. She represents a whole different generation, but as Lara Jean spends time with her, one quickly notices that things are not that different after all. Sure, we have social media and all that now, but the essentials seem same. 

Lara Jean's family dynamics remain as the most interesting element of her story, and I love seeing how she grows as a sort of maternal figure to Kitty. I think this book also brings new maternal figures to her life in the form of Stormy and their neighbor. And while Margot is not physically present for the majority of the book, she still has a huge part in the story.

I didn't enjoy P.S. I Still Love You quite as much as I enjoyed To All The Boys I've Loved Before, but nevertheless found myself entertained and touched by this continuation to Lara Jean's story. As I said, I am curious to see how the third book turns out. At least the cover for it is absolutely beautiful.


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