Mundie Moms

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han / Book Review

By: Jenny Han
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Released on: May 2, 2017
Purchase from: amazon | Barnes & Noble
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Lara Jean is having the best senior year. And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn’t be more perfect!

At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks…until she gets some unexpected news.

Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Okay, let me start off by saying that last year, my son was a senior in high school, and his decision of which college to choose hung over pretty much everything we did. Having lived through it, I think I could write an entire how-to book on the subject of being a parent of a college-bound kid. The whirlwind of stresses, disappointments and as he made his final decision, that feeling of yeah, this is the right fit. It reminded me of trying on dozens of wedding dresses with my Mom before my wedding. Each one had a reason that made it not quite right, until that moment, that singularly perfect moment where one just felt perfect.

The beginning of Always and Forever, Lara Jean reads like a primer for How to Get Into a Competitive College. If I sound a little disappointed, I was, and I adore Jenny's stories. Add to this a subplot where Lara Jean is trying to perfect the perfect chocolate chip cookie -- not too flat, not too puffy, soft in the center and chewy on the outside. Can you feel my eyeroll? Aside: For the record, Lara Jean, if you follow Betty Crocker's chocolate chip cookie recipe, she recommends adding a 1/2 cup of flour as an adjustment to help with the flat cookie issue. I, personally, love Jennifer Bushman's (Kitchen Coach: Weeknight Cooking) recipe. But, I'm digressing (much like the plot of the story).

I don't know about you, but I expect the final book of a trilogy to wrap up things. What's going to happen with Lara Jean and Peter? Will going to the same college save their very likely doomed relationship? Is their relationship doomed in the first place? I wanted more of that. And I think the problem lies in the fact that this a trilogy. The series would've made a strong duology. These meanderings from the main plot took up too much time in both this and the last volume.

So, why the four star review, you ask? Well, it's because Jenny's a masterful writer, and even though the plot is lacking credible tension, she pulls it off. Once Lara Jean decides on the college of her choice (I loved the way this occurred), things both unravel and fall into place. What we get in the end is what I love about every, single Jenny story I've read -- it becomes a story about family. And much like the heart of the Grinch at the end of his story, my own heart swelled to a solid 4 stars for this book. The whole plot suddenly felt like a classic, contemporary story, and one that I would love to see on the screen. If you think I have a big smile on my face as I write this, you're absolutely right.

Don't hesitate to pick up the series, stop and run out to get it for the holidays. It will make you feel as good as those Christmas movies you love to watch. Actually wait, it will make you feel better. You've got to meet the sweet perfectionist that is Lara Jean, and you have to meet Peter. The two of them are real and messy just like most relationships.