“To all the boys I’ve loved before”: The trilogy

Here we are. The trilogy that changed the reputation of Netflix movies. Honestly, I don’t know anybody who didn’t enjoy the film adaptation of the first novel To all the boys I’ve loved before when it came out in 2018. When I saw the movie, I rewatched it, rewatched it again, and then I decided to check out the young adult romance novels it was based on. I got them for Christmas, and I spend 18 days in total to read them, and now I feel like I am in the position to talk about my feelings.

Let’s start with the first novel To all the boys I’ve loved before written by Jenny Han, and published 2014 by Simon & Schuster. I saw the movie before I read the book, something I usually try to avoid when it comes to movie adaptations of novels. I guess the Netflix movie was just the best advertisement for the trilogy. Lara Jean Song Covey has the best way to get over a crush and start the healing process of a broken heart. Whenever she is so in love that she doesn’t know what to do anymore, she writes a letter pouring her heart out and saying good-bye. These letters are not meant to be read, they are private, hidden in the hatbox of her dead mother, her most precious possession. Well, everything suddenly changes, when her letters are suddenly sent out, and Josh, the Ex-boyfriend of her sister, reads Lara Jean’s passionate love confessions. She has had a crush on Josh for too long, but he is obviously out of reach because he was her sister Margot’s boyfriend. Another letter gets into the hands of Peter Kavinsky, the most popular, handsome, and charming boy at school who happened to be her first kiss way back in middle school. Lara Jean’s life was all about day-dreaming, making up scenarios in her head, and hiding at home with her sisters and her dad baking cookies. Suddenly, Lara Jean has to convince Josh that she is not in love with him anymore, so why not pretend to be dating Peter Kavinsky? Peter recently broke up with his bitchy but pretty and popular Genevieve, so why not make her jealous with Lara Jean. They both can get something out of this whole fake-relationship thing so they make a contract.

Peter will write Lara Jean one note every day.

to all the boys I’ve loved before, page 118

Lara Jean is suddenly leaving her room and going out to parties, is confronted with a mean ex-girlfriend, finds herself in a hot tube with the cutest boy from school, and is trying to survive this mess without her older sister Margot, who went to university in Scotland. Her little sister Kitty is not necessarily the best help for all this chaos.

The sequel P.S. I love you starts right where To all the boys I’ve loved before ends. When real feelings suddenly complicated all this fake-dating, Lara Jean realizes that her crush on Josh lies in the past, and she has to fight for Peter. Thank god. Right at the beginning of the novel, our biggest OTP finally admits their feelings for each other. But there are still 300 pages to go, something needs to happen. A video of Lara Jean and Peter kissing in the hot tube is posted on social media, Genevieve is trying her best to keep Peter on her side (quite successfully), and another letter finds its way into the hands of a boy Lara Jean loved before. John Ambrose McClaren. What a name. What a guy. Out of nowhere, this guy from her past comes back into Lara Jean’s life and evokes feelings in her. There is a USO party in a home for senior citizens, jealousy, more letters, a new love-interest for Lara Jean’s dad, an interesting Valentine’s- poem, and a snow fight in the middle of the night.

And then I’m not thinking anymore and I’m just lost in the kissing.

P.S. I still love you, page 21

Jenny Han’s last novel always and forever, Lara Jean starts how most romantic-comedies end. Lara Jean, Peter and their friends are in senior year, everything revolves around what happens after high school: college. Thank god, Lara Jean and Peter are as happy as ever together because college applications can be stressful enough. For Lara Jean, the best way to calm down is to work on the perfect chocolate chip cookies recipe, and bake as much as one can. Kitty is growing up, Margot has a new boyfriend from London, her dad is getting married to Ms. Rothschild, there is a school trip to New York City- life is good. Until Lara Jean’s plans vanish into thin air when she is not accepted to UVA, the college Peter is going to. Suddenly, Lara Jean has to find an alternative, and figure out if Peter and her should try a long-distance relationship.

I suppose I’ll say it all started with a love letter.

always and forever, Lara Jean, page 325

Jenny Han created an adorable Young Adult romance series, which I read one after the other, totally immersed in Lara Jean’s world. The first book was my second favourite, which might be because I saw the movie before I read it. I already knew what was going to happen, and I was used to the beautiful images of the movie that I even started to miss them in the book. Consequently, some passages of the book felt a bit long and dragging. However, it was different for the second novel, my favourite. I enjoyed the story with the fifth letter getting to John Ambrose McClaren, introducing a new love interest for Lara Jean. I guess I just love a good love triangle. Moreover, I felt like the problems Lara Jean and Peter had to work on in this novel kept the story going as they were realistic and relatable. Gen still depended on Peter and Peter tried to be a good friend, while Lara Jean had to fight with her jealousy, learn how to trust her boyfriend, and figure out her feelings for this other guy. In contrast to that, the last novel was my least favourite, because the problems Lara Jean and Peter encountered seemed forced. It felt as if we need them to break up again over something irrelevant to keep the readers in suspense. But we knew they were meant to be, didn’t we? Nevertheless, the ending was still cute, and I enjoyed that the last novel focused on the side characters more. In general, Jenny Han is unbelievably talented in creating adorable worlds with scrapbooking and baking and love letters. I loved how relatable Lara Jean’s fear of dating is, how she is daydreaming about her crushes rather than trying to talk to them, because yes that could be me. Moreover, Margot, Lara Jean, and Kitty’s sisterly relationship is the real strength of Jenny Han’s novel. Forget Peter Kavinsky or John Ambrose McClaren, Lara Jean will always put her family first. From my perspective, some YA romance novels tend to overdramatize the relationships of teenagers, making it the most important thing in their lives. I was surprised at first when I read it and realized how many chapters are just about Lara Jean, her sisters, her dad, her life without her mother. In my opinion, Jenny Han does a wonderful job exploring characters like Margot and Kitty, analysing how their sisterly relationship grows when Margot leaves for college, when Lara Jean starts dating, and when Kitty becomes more responsible. Even Chris, Lara Jean’s reckless best friend, who is partying and a little bit unreliable plays an important part in my opinion. Lara Jean and Chris couldn’t be more different, but still, they are best friends and it works. A happy end for Jenny Han not only refers to love relationships here but family and friends that surround you and will always be there for you no matter what.

In my opinion, the TATB-trilogy was the perfect read for my Christmas holidays. It’s cozy and sweet, it has a great romance plot, and it makes you feel good. I personally preferred the movie adaptation over the first novel, which I normally never do. Let’s see how it is going to be with the sequel, which will be available on Netflix from the 12th of February right before Valentine’s Day. As it was my favourite book of the trilogy, it better be good! There were passages in the novels which were less interesting and made them appear a bit long, and sometimes I felt like problems weren’t authentic, only made to have something going on no matter what. This resulted in Lara Jean appearing a bit overdramatic. However, she is 16 years old, this is YA, a little unnecessary drama simply belongs here, so no hard feelings. After all, Jenny Han made me curious and I added her other trilogy called The Summer I Turned Pretty to my list. Plus: There were playlists and cookie recipes at the end of the editions I read- I love some good bonus content.

Dear Jenny Han, 
Thank you for writing a trilogy which is a love letter in itself. 

Best, 
Lea 

to all the boys I’ve loved before:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

P.S. I still love you:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

always and forever, Lara Jean:

Rating: 3 out of 5.
The trailer for P.S. I love you available on the 12tth of February 2020 on Netflix
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUmZ3NfiHDI

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