Jenny Han has done something amazing. She’s created a world so realistically similar to ours that I felt sixteen again as I followed Lara Jean Song Covey through her momentous junior year of high school.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and its highly anticipated sequel P.S. I Still Love You made me look back on high school, with fondness and reassurance that I did just what I was supposed to and chose just who I was supposed to.
Throughout reading To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, I praised the realistic and believable nature of the story. But when I finally got to read P.S. I Still Love You, I realized that this world of Lara Jean’s is not quite as similar to our own as I thought.
While the emotions and expectations of Lara jean are infinitely relatable, her story is not quite as real. This is for one reason: Lara Jean was able to do what every other dreamy eyed sixteen year old girl dreams of. She was able to tie the loose ends of every what-if scenario filling her mind.
High school is a time when middle school seems far away, but its memories still affect everyday life and relationships. High school is full of what-ifs, almost-friendships, could-have-been relationships and memories of old friends that all of a sudden seem out of reach.
Lara Jean got to explore all of the relationships she couldn’t stop wondering about – from the boy she was devoted to in eighth grade to her first kiss. Lara Jean was able to reconnect with everyone she’d ever had feelings for. She was even able to find closure with the ex-best friend that she never thought she would understand again.
These two novels act like they are about first loves and the relationship between Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky, but they’re about so much more. They are about being sixteen turning seventeen and all of the relationships, emotions, and experiences that that entails.
Lara Jean experiences loss, her first romance, and the epiphany that the loves of her past weren’t what she held them up to be in her mind.
The story of Lara Jean is the story of every sixteen year old and her junior year. It’s the story of hope and romance in this crucial time. Somehow, Jenny Han managed to tell a story that both includes all of the things that really happen when you’re sixteen and all of the things that sixteen year old girls hope could happen to them.
These books are for the day-dreamers, the girls with clouded memories of their past and dreamy eyed wonders of what could have been. These books are for the day-dreamers for so many reasons.
Because shy sixteen-year-old girls with dreamy eyes always wonder what could have been with the boys they never quite got the courage to approach. Because they will probably never stop wondering how the people they used to spend their lives with turned out.
Because they long to spend just one more day with their former loves just to see what could have been. Because Lara Jean got to. Because against all odds, Lara Jean got to experience everything sixteen year old girls dream of experiencing.
Because her story is the reassuring tale that the world needed. Because things happen the way they are supposed to. Because the loves of our past are in the past for a reason. Because those we are wondering about are probably still wondering about us too, which is a nice thought.