Book Review: P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #2) by Jenny Han

Continuing the lighthearted, playful story of Lara Jean’s tumultuous love life, P.S. I Still Love You is a complex  story of friendship and awkward budding romance, though there was something missing that kept the book from being a favorite.

3.5/5 stars

cover ps I still love you

Amazon Description

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?

My Review

Everything about this book feels real. It is the story of Lara Jean’s awkward life. Unfortunately, real life isn’t always breathtaking.

I love that this book has a complex plot. It deals with themes of friendship, family, and self-discovery–not just romance. I appreciated that there was less family drama in this book than in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, especially that Margot was less bitchy. The family drama in book one were easily my least favorite part of the plot, and its being toned down in book two made PS I Still Love You a smoother read for me.

The family drama refocused on Lara Jean’s dad (instead of Margot) and his children trying to find him a date (their mom died when the Song girls were young). This subplot started out weird for me, but ended up being sweet; I was rooting for the ship to sail (I don’t want to use names because it is a bit of a reveal) along with the sisters.

I also had a realization about Lara Jean in this book: her being annoying at times actually makes her a unique protagonist. In the first book (and in the second book), Lara Jean annoyed me with her personality. She’s just not my kind of person; our reactions to certain situations are extremely different, she puts up with some stuff I wouldn’t, and flips out at some things that don’t really bother me.

But halfway into PS I Still Love You, I realized that her personality–while frustrating–was also endearing. And, at least, if I don’t like her, that is something new for me, since I usually like the protagonists of books I read. In the end, I think I kind of love Lara Jean, for the same reasons that I originally hated her. She’s really, really one-of-a-kind, and she has a crystal clear personality. I know who she is, and that is something that doesn’t happen often with contemporary leads. She feels like a person who could exist in real life–so props to Jenny Han for writing her.

The romance is less unique. I liked Lara Jean and Peter as a couple, even if they were kind of screwed up. This book has a love triangle, though it is less dominant than it was in the first book, and it involves a different guy (more on him later in the review). Once again, the love triangle worked as a part of the plot. I didn’t hate it, it provided lots of hilariously awkward scenes, and I liked its resolution.

There is nothing amazing about Lara Jean and Peter’s romance, except for the realism. They are not the kind of couple that gets together and instantly works. They both have baggage, and neither of them are “good” at being significant others. Peter does some things that end up being obnoxious, but I forgave him for it, because Lara Jean was messing up their relationship also, and because it was great to read a Chicklit book with a truly fallible (but lovable) love interest. Still, the romance fell flat in terms of dramatic moments or emotional scenes. The romance is light, funny, and in some ways doomed, but it never grabbed me.

That is a problem the entire book had. Did I like the plot? Yep. Did I think the story was cute and refreshingly realistic? Yes. But there were no heart-string-plucking moments, no scenes that brought tears or made me gasp. Looking back on the story, I don’t know what the plot’s arc was supposed to be; there was no clear rise or fall to the action. Stories don’t have to have the “exposition to rising action to climax to resolution” plot arc, but they have to have something that grabs me and keeps me reading. Instead of having a je ne sais pas, this book is missing one. I liked the premise, the characters, and all of the plot lines, but I never fell in love with the book.

I still recommend reading this book. It fixes a lot of issues I had with the first book, and it gives the reader a deeper understanding of the characters. PS I Still Love You maintains the light and playfully awkward tone of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, so if you loved that in the first book, I would definitely tell you to pick up the second one. I can’t tell if there will be a third book (honestly the series would be okay either way), but I would read it if it were released.

A quick thought on the love triangle (contains spoilers)

I liked John–he was an interesting character–but he was forever in the friendzone for me. Lara Jean needed a male friend, and she got one, but I never wanted him to (or believed he would) become her love interest. I also never believed Peter would actually cheat on Lara Jean, or that his relationship with Genevieve was anything other than platonic (on his part). Peter wasn’t trying to be malicious or hurt Lara Jean–he was just painfully clueless. For me, that came across as forgivable realism (though if it happened to me in real life I’d be unbelievably pissed) instead of a disqualification from the race to be Lara Jean’s boy friend.

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