June 15, 2015

Postmarked by My Heart

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Release Date: May 26, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster | Simon & Schuster BFYR
Pages: 337 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover
Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before #2
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Summary (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.

Thoughts on P.S. I Still Love You
Last year, I picked up To All the Boys I Loved Before while at Barnes & Noble. I'd seen the cover online (because, hello, it's adorable) but had never read anything by Jenny Han. Do you ever think you know what a book is about or how an author writes without ever actually trying it? That's what happened to me with this author. I'm not sure why, but I just didn't think Han's books would work for me. But something about seeing the book in person convinced me that I could at least read a few pages... and then I ended up buying it a few minutes later. From those first sentences, I knew I'd found a favorite.

I decided to re-read it before diving into P.S. I Still Love You, which was such a good decision for me! I fell back in love with Lara Jean, wanted to hug and high five Kitty every time she appeared, and smiled the whole way through the book. While Lara Jean and I are very different, I could relate to her on so many levels. There are things about her personality and her story that just speak to me. But more than anything else, I fell in love with Han's writing. She perfectly captures this character. Lara Jean is innocent, but she's not naive. She's sweet and a little shy, but she's also bold and silly. She felt so real to me - I'm sad that I can't actually bake with her!

Based on the ending of To All the Boys I've Loved Before, I wasn't sure what to expect from P.S. I Still Love You. I'd loved her friendship with Peter and the way it was transforming into something more, but I was also a little nervous. Some of my thoughts on this book are slightly spoiler-y, so I'm going to share the general thoughts first and will then indicate when I'm going to go a little more in-depth. I loved all the same things in this book that I did in the first: the characters, the relationships (especially the family dynamics), the emotions, the writing... While there's a more serious tone in this book, it's still a charming and adorable read. 

Lara Jean goes through some tough stuff, but she handles it all so admirably. I think what I most appreciate about these books is that the characters seem like actual teenagers. While I can swoon over YA book boys with the best of them, there's a part of me that feels they're often unrealistic. I love YA for the way it portrays female characters in all their complexity, but I don't always feel the same way about the guys. I went to high school with some great guys, but they definitely weren't perfect. And so, I have to respect and admire the fact that Peter seemed like such a realistic teenage boy - even when he frustrated me. He's got a lot to learn about how to treat the people you love, but who doesn't at that age?

And I adored this passage so much:
"There’s a Korean word my grandma taught me. It’s called jung. It’s the connection between two people that can’t be severed, even when love turns to hate. You still have those old feelings for them; you can’t ever completely shake them loose of you; you will always have tenderness in your heart for them."
When I read this paragraph, it made me sit up and say "YES! THIS!" I've written a little bit about my crappy friendship experience on the blog, but I've been able to put this feeling into words before. I was trying to explain it to someone recently, and now I just want to give them this quote. Han writes with such honesty and clarity, and I think this reflects why I've grown to love these books so much. There are also some great conversations about feminism and double standards, though I did think they felt a bit heavy-handed. However, I liked the point that was being made, even if it felt a little too "message-y" to me.

** Spoilers Start **

Without going into too many details, I want to talk about one final thing. I mentioned that I loved that Peter felt real, but the flip side of that coin is that he screws up. He makes some mistakes in this book that are frustrating. I respected Lara Jean so much for the way she stood up for herself, but it still hurt to watch someone treat her poorly. I think his actions stem from the fact that he never really got closure on his relationship with Genevieve, but that doesn't absolve him either. And yet, I was still rooting for him. People make mistakes. I think Lara Jean was right to hold him accountable for putting Genevieve first, but I also loved that she gave him another shot. 

Is John Ambrose a better match for Lara Jean? Maybe. Would I have understood if Lara Jean had wanted to be with him in the end? Absolutely. At the end of the day, I'm Team Lara Jean. I would even have been happy if she hadn't ended up with anyone! But it felt like a bigger deal to me that she did end up with a relationship. In the first book, Peter tells Lara Jean that she only knows how to love people from a distance. She writes these love letters to boys, but she doesn't really know them. She knows the version in her head, but not the flesh-and-blood reality. I love characters in books, but it's a very different thing than loving the man I married.

Forgiving Peter isn't excusing him, but it does give him the chance to try again. Forgiveness doesn't make you weak, and it doesn't mean you don't know your own worth. Lara Jean would be fine with or without Peter, but I was just glad that she was happy in the end. Will they stay together? Who knows. But I'm proud of Lara Jean for trying again. I'm not sure that the Lara Jean from the first book would have been able to, and it felt like character growth for her to be willing to take the risk. And I certainly hope Peter proves himself worthy!

** Spoilers End **

Overall, I loved P.S. I Still Love You! I'm glad I got to spend more time with Lara Jean, Peter, Kitty and the rest of her sweet family. While I had a few minor issues, I'm still happy with this story and where it ends. As much as I loved the book, however, I don't think it was necessary. To All the Boys I've Loved Before has an ambiguous ending, but it works as a standalone. It didn't really need to be continued, and I think that's why certain things in P.S. I Still Love You just don't feel quite right. But I can never get enough Lara Jean, so I'm not complaining!

So Quotable
“I know now that I don’t want to love or be loved in half measures. I want it all, and to have it all, you have to risk it all.”

4 comments:

  1. We've spoken about PS I Still Love You in depth already, but I just have to say that I adore your review! We feel so similarly about these characters and this story, and I just kept nodding my head in agreement while I was reading this. Team Lara Jean for life, yo! (I would seriously love to bake and/or scrapbook with that girl.)

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  2. I can't wait to finally read this and I loved your review. I really loved the first book and hope the second is just as good for me! Team Lara Jean all the way (although I'm sad Peter is going to screw up because I like Peter! Stupid boys...).

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  3. I loved how Lara Jean handled everything with the video, especially considering the fact that everyone thought she was really immature in To All the Boys. I think she showed a lot of dignity and grace, and I loved her even more for it.

    I just love this duo so much. I'd never read anything by Han prior to reading To All the Boys, but I'm looking forward to reading her Summer trilogy. I'm hoping it's just as sweet as these two books.

    Erin @ The Hardcover Lover

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  4. I loved this book too and had the exact same reaction when Lara Jean talked about her complicated relationship with Genevieve (and later when she talked about how people naturally grow apart). While I loved John Ambrose McClaren more than is entirely appropriate for a fictional character, I was still really satisfied with the choices Lara Jean made and the way these books ended--it totally made sense for all of the characters. Great review!

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