Monday, July 13, 2015

Review: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Title: P.S. I Still Love You
Author: Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: May 26, 2015
Rating: ★★★★

Summary (via 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.

Interestingly, what made me love the first book in this duology by Jenny Han made me dislike the second, and what made me dislike the first book made me love the second too.

The dynamic between Peter and Lara Jean was what made the first book so great. They were unexpected. They were in completely different social groups. They didn't make sense together… until they did. And then they made all the sense in the world, and they represented possibility and breaking the status quo, being something other than what is expected. All you wanted was to see Lara Jean and Peter being silly together, and Peter treating Kitty like she was his own sister, and Peter acting like his smarmy self but regarding Lara Jean's Korean culture with so much respect.

And there was definitely still some of that charm in P.S. I Still Love You – like Kitty with her blunt observations:

"It looks like sex to me, but I'm the only one here besides you who's never had sex, so what do I know? Sorry, I read your diary."

And Lara Jean with her social awkwardness (doesn't this sound like a scene straight out of The Mindy Project? Like, "Ugh, Danny, why are you such a slow reader?" Anyone?):

"It's torturous standing there in front of him, waiting – for what, I don't know. More humiliation? I should probably just go. He's such a slow reader."

But the more I learned about Peter, the more easily I fell out of love with him, and I was frustrated with Lara Jean for not feeling the same way. He had moments where he would just sparkle, where he would say exactly the right thing, and you could tell it was for real and not just some line he was feeding her, and I could understand Lara Jean not wanting to let him go, but… I just… ugh. It didn't feel like enough to me. He acted in ways that canceled out what made him so great.

I need to do a whole separate post on this. I have a lot of feelings about Peter, and they are not good feelings.

Moving right along…

As he was meant to do, John Ambrose McClaren captured my heart with his gentlemanliness. It was unexpected and a tiny bit scary, too, to realize that falling in love is just a game of chance. It reminds me of something I learned in a human development class I took in college – there are currently 7+ billion people on this world, and literally millions of those people could be your potential [soul]mate, but if you don't encounter them, then it doesn't matter. And it comes down to timing, and circumstance, and even if you do find them, and even if you manage to fall in love with them, you still have to make an effort to make it work.

I wasn't expecting such a blunt, realistic view of the world from this book, especially since the first book felt so much younger and more innocent to me. It didn't feel out of place, necessarily – rather, I think it showed Lara Jean growing up, confronting the hurtful moments in her life and trying to make sense of them:

"Things feel like they'll be forever, but they aren't. Love can go away, or people can, without even meaning to. Nothing is guaranteed."

P.S. I Still Love You was a little darker, not quite as dreamy or rosy as To All the Boys I Loved Before – and I really liked that about it. But I didn't love Peter, and it was a huge letdown, and I guess that's a big part of why I couldn't love this book.

On a lighter note, did anyone else notice that Lara Jean made Taylor Swift's chai sugar cookies with [cinnamon] eggnog frosting? (And since I'm on the subject, did anyone else feel like P.S. I Still Love You was basically "That's the Way I Loved You" in book form? Please discuss.)

4 comments:

  1. I'M SCARED TO READ THIS NOW. Because I loved Peter and now...there's the possibility that I'm going to like John Ambrose? I don't think my feelings can undergo that sort of change.
    This is a really great review! Very thoughtful!

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    1. YOU SHOULD READ IT ANYWAY. At the very least you could just read the first chapter and pretend the story ends there!

      I'm actually writing a long, drawn-out post all about Peter just so I can get it out of my system and move on. :P

      Thank you!

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  2. I just finished To All the Boys I've Loved Before and I'm trying to come up with a coherent post about it. I have mixed feelings about basically all the characters. I'm annoyed by Lara Jean and by Peter but then I love them too. Really enjoyed your post here.

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    1. I felt the same way toward both of them, with some kind of... fond irritation or something. I'll keep an eye out for your thoughts!

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