This is a review of P.S. I still love you by Jenny Han. I have to say this book gave me more than I was expecting, more than I was prepared for, and more than just a simple love story. And I enjoyed every minute of it.
As always, let’s delve into what the book’s about first. Lara Jean and Peter had been pretending to be a couple, then they weren’t. Now Lara Jean has to learn about being in a real relationship and what that entails. Just as it seems she’s figuring it out, another boy from her past, whom she had feelings for, returns, as do her feelings.
The question the back cover poses is, “can a girl be in love with two boys at once?”
Before I answer and offer up my thoughts on the book, be aware that there are SPOILERS ahead. So don’t get in the raft unless you’re ready for a bumpy ride.
Let me start off by saying, I was a little confused by the blurb and chapter one. I went in expecting that I might get to see a bit of this “pretend” relationship, but it wasn’t there. It was merely an afterthought. (Side note: this is apparently book 2 in the trilogy, but can be read as a standalone). The novel jumps in apparently after some fight that Lara Jean and Peter had. It opens with a letter she has written to him apologizing, explaining, and telling him that she isn’t ready for them to be over.
From there I hit chapter one and learned something new. I’ve never heard of a hanbok, nor did I realize it was something that is worn in Korean culture. There was a description, but I think the picture (left) brings it to life. This is where we officially meet Lara Jean. She’s off to a family member’s house to celebrate New Year’s Day. I will say I would’ve certainly enjoyed New Year’s Day with her family, where the adults give the children money. Then again, I’m not really a child anymore. Mentally doesn’t count. Hmm? I might have to rethink this.
Sorry. I got off track. Anyway, Lara Jean gets dropped off at Peter’s house on her way home and they make-up. From this point, it’s a lot of ins and outs regarding who’s who and who’s dated and/or related to who. Everything is told from Lara Jean’s POV, which initially bugged me. I like to get inside the heads of all the characters, but by the end I accepted it wasn’t just a story about Lara Jean (LJ) and Peter. In fact, it was all about LJ. Suddenly it made more sense that we remain inside her head.
Let me break it down a little. LJ is a shy sixteen year-old who up until this point hasn’t ever had a boyfriend. Now, I don’t know why LJ and Peter were pretending to be a couple, but they were and somewhere along the way it became real. So they decide on a new contract. Yep, I said contract. I’ve only ever seen that on BBT. Of course, the relationship agreement between LJ and Peter is nothing like what Sheldon drew up for him and Amy. Again, I digress. So they come to a few terms, even though LJ still has things she wants to know about Peter’s friendship with his ex-girlfriend, she refuses to address them.
The ex-girlfriend, Genevieve, is dealing with family stuff and she keeps turning to Peter for support. LJ is a little, which eventually becomes a lot, uncomfortable with this. Enter the other guy, John Ambrose McClaren. We discover that LJ wrote five love letters and her little sister sent them out on her behalf. (Side note, this may be how LJ and Peter got involved to begin with.) All of them have come back to her except for John’s. It took a little while, but he did receive his and he writes back. LJ says something about it to Peter for two reasons. One, to be honest about it (it was in their contract). Two, to see if she could get a rise out of him. He doesn’t quite react the way she expects/hopes he will. So, she writes John back and they become pen pals. We later learn that Peter knew about this as well, but still didn’t act jealous, even though he was bothered by it. Not that I blame him.
Things are building and it isn’t hard to see that a blow up is coming, but it doesn’t happen right away. LJ finds out the tree-house in the yard behind hers, where she spent a lot of time as a child, will be taken down by the new owners. There happens to be a time capsule that LJ and her friends buried at the bottom of the tree-house, so she decides to have a capsule opening party. The friends come together for a little bit of fun and to see what treasure is awaiting them in the capsule. At the end, they decide to play one last game that they used to play as children, Assassins. What fun! They each put their name in a hat and draw a name. They have to tag out that person by placing both palms on them, then they get whoever that person had until only one remains. Both school and home are safe zones. From what we learn, LJ had never been good at this game and has NEVER won. They agree the prize: one wish to be granted by the loser of the winner’s choice.
And this is where it all blows up. While the game is going on, LJ and Peter have been spending some time apart. They only see each other school, text, and talk on the phone.
I don’t want to give it all away because I’m sure by now you see the pot boiling. Frustration, secrets, ex-girlfriends, and suitors can certainly make a relationship go BOOM! Not that this is where it ends or even where all secrets are revealed. There’s so much to learn in the last third of the book and it definitely has a HFN, just not necessarily what the reader might expect. At least not for me, but once I got there, I realized the title suddenly made sense.
The chapters were short, but there were a lot. Still the pacing was steady and the story pulled me in. I kept reading because I wanted to know more. And that is in part what makes this a great read. The other part, well, that’s a bit more personal. I’ll just say that it has to do with what LJ learns in the end. Based on all this, I highly recommend the book. It combines friendship, romance, and a journey of self-discovery all in one. And now that I know there are two others, I’ll definitely be picking those up.
I’ll leave you with one final thought on P.S. I still love you. Some fiction books are simple enjoyment. Some fiction books have a lesson to teach. And some, if we’re lucky, do both.
My rating: 4.5 stars.
Author/Contributor: Brigit Rosé