“P.S. I Still Love You” is the conclusion to Jenny Han’s “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” duology. The series as a whole centers around Lara Jean Song Covey, a 16-year-old mixed Korean American high school student, whose love for her family knows no bounds. Lara Jean writes letters to her crushes in an attempt to move on from them and keeps the letters in a hatbox hidden in her closet. When the letters mysteriously get sent to the boys they are written about, Lara Jean must navigate the waters of high school love and humiliation, and discover who or what it is that she truly wants.
Every once in a while, a person may be lucky enough to stumble across a book that speaks to his/her soul on the most basic of levels. “P.S. I Still Love You” was such a book for me. Sure, I’ve never been in Lara Jean’s exact situation, but Jenny Han tells LJ’s story with such heart that I understand. I understand the loss of a loved one or the insecurity that comes with being a person’s 2nd (or 3rd, or 4th…) love. I understand the pain of being the subject of rumors and bullying. I understand being the girl who looks at life through both a microscope AND rose-colored glasses. I have very little in common with Lara Jean if we’re talking specifics, but I know her. I’ve been her. I probably still AM her, on some level. And that made it feel like I was reading about myself, or about my best friend. Lara Jean could be any of us, and so could any of the other characters.
All of the characters in this book are so vibrant. They are real and vulnerable; it honestly feels like reading a story about a friend or a family member. Half of the time you feel like you’re reading a sitcom, while the other half you feel as though your heart might break for the poignancy of it all. Case in point: my favorite character, Stormy. Stormy’s the saucy old lady/retirement home resident who loves to recount her glory days and her sexual escapades. She takes a strong interest in Lara Jean’s love life and tries to give her advice that is more well-suited to the 1950s, but somehow still resonates with Lara Jean. Stormy is a woman I know, or a woman I wish I knew. Her “sage” advice is often ill-timed, but always rides on the best of intentions.
I think my absolute favorite thing about “P.S. I Still Love You,” when compared to “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,” is its serendipitous nature. The second half of this story is a huge proponent for believing in fate — or at least in the domino effect. It’s about recognizing how the smallest act can change the course of a person’s future. This is a belief that I have always subscribed to, which has directly impacted my own experiences time and time again. Each event in this book directly leads to the next, and the next, and the next. Lara Jean’s story wouldn’t exist had her letters never been sent. She wouldn’t have grown into a young woman who follows her gut and learns to speak her mind. Her entire personality would be different, desaturated. She comes to recognize this truth, and in her recognition, finds herself grateful for some of the most humiliating experiences of her life. There’s something kind of beautiful about that level of self-awareness. It’s something we could all aspire to.
Jenny Han is quickly becoming one of my favorite YA Contemporary authors. I haven’t read any of her work outside of this duology, but you can be assured that I will begin collecting her entire works in the very near future. I’m confident that her ability to craft an engaging story with characters that leap off of the page and into the reader’s heart will keep me coming back again and again.
I’d never read Jenny Han before, not even “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” I immediately fell in love with Lara Jean, Margot, and Kitty’s sisterhood. Even more than the book’s romances, Lara Jean and Kitty’s conversations felt like the most touching moments. I liked when Kitty would lounge on Lara Jean’s bed and pipe up randomly, like about “The Sopranos” (“I watched it on demand. I’m on season three.”). I envied Lara Jean’s seemingly ideal sibling situation: an older sister to go to for advice, and a younger sib to love and dote on.
Han captures the uncertainty that plagues your thoughts when you’re a teen. The book is written in present tense first person (my favorite tense to write in), which makes Lara Jean’s thoughts feel even more tortured and palpable. Lara Jean’s attachment to Peter feels real, so we sympathize with her even when we feel like Peter is a gigantic jerk. Han injects every new experience with Lara Jean’s funny, delightful thoughts about it. For example:
“We start to kiss, and I’ve definitely never kissed a boy in my bed before. This is brand-new. I doubt I’ll ever be able to think of my bed the same way again.”
I got completely absorbed in this book and didn’t want it to end. The interactions between Lara Jean and a certain character felt like some of the most romantic scenes written in any books, ever. I loved the supporting characters, especially the girls’ dad and their neighbor/dog expert, Ms. Rothschild.
I loved how Lara Jean felt like her own person, unapologetically: she enjoys baking. She wears her hair how she wants to, even if it’s not how other girls at school style their hair. She volunteers at a nursing home.
Related to what Christa said about fate, what strikes me most about this book is the looming presence of our past. Lara Jean lives under the spectre of Genevieve, her former best friend. I love the scene where Kitty asks, “What kind of sauce did Mommy like with her chicken?” Han shows that our lives have a dynamic relationship with our past. This book made me want to make a time capsule with some of my best friends.
Have you read “P.S. I Still Love You”? Message me and tell me all your thoughts. I’ll be reading the first book soon, and I look forward to reading lots more from Jenny Han.